Slash and burn is a land use practice widespread all over the world, and nowadays it is formally recognized as the principal livelihood system in rural areas of South America, Asia, and Africa. The practice consists of a land rotation where users cut native or secondary forest to establish a new crop field and, in some cases, build charcoal kilns with the cut wood to produce charcoal. Due to several socio-economic changes in developing countries, some scientists and international organizations have questioned the sustainability of slash and burn since in some cases, crop yield does not justify the soil degradation caused. To estimate the soil quality in agricultural and forest soils at different ages of the forest-fallow period (25, 35, and 50 years), this survey investigated rural areas in three locations in Manica province, central Mozambique: Vanduzi, Sussundenga, and Macate. Soil profiles were trenched and sampled with a pedological approach under crop fields and forest-fallow. The chronosequence was selected to test the hypothesis that the increase in forest-fallow age causes an improvement of soil fertility. Results highlighted discrete variations among locations in mineralogy, Al- and Feoxyhydroxides, sand, silt, pH, total organic carbon, humic carbon, total nitrogen, available phosphorous, chloride, nitrate, fluoride, and ammonium. Few differences in mineralogy, Fe-oxyhydroxides, available P, chloride, and nitrate were detected between crop fields and forest-fallow within the same location. Such differences were mostly ascribed to intrinsic fertility inherited from the parent material rather than a longer forest-fallow period. However, physicochemical soil property improvement did not occur under a forest age of 50 years (the longest forest-fallow considered), indicating that harmonization of intrinsic fertility and agronomic practices may increase soil organic matter and nutrient contents more than a long forest-fallow period.

Soil fertility in slash and burn agricultural systems in central Mozambique / Serrani, Dominique; Cocco, Stefania; Cardelli, Valeria; D’Ottavio, Paride; Rafael, ROGERIO BORGUETE ALVES; Feniasse, Domingos; Vilanculos, Alcídio; Luisa Fernandez-Marcos, Maria; Giosue, Chiara; Tittarelli, Francesca; Corti, Giuseppe. - In: JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT. - ISSN 0301-4797. - STAMPA. - 322:(2022). [10.1016/j.jenvman.2022.116031]

Soil fertility in slash and burn agricultural systems in central Mozambique

Dominique Serrani
;
Stefania Cocco;Valeria Cardelli;Paride D’Ottavio;Alves Rafael Rogerio Borguete;Chiara Giosue;Francesca Tittarelli;Giuseppe Corti
2022-01-01

Abstract

Slash and burn is a land use practice widespread all over the world, and nowadays it is formally recognized as the principal livelihood system in rural areas of South America, Asia, and Africa. The practice consists of a land rotation where users cut native or secondary forest to establish a new crop field and, in some cases, build charcoal kilns with the cut wood to produce charcoal. Due to several socio-economic changes in developing countries, some scientists and international organizations have questioned the sustainability of slash and burn since in some cases, crop yield does not justify the soil degradation caused. To estimate the soil quality in agricultural and forest soils at different ages of the forest-fallow period (25, 35, and 50 years), this survey investigated rural areas in three locations in Manica province, central Mozambique: Vanduzi, Sussundenga, and Macate. Soil profiles were trenched and sampled with a pedological approach under crop fields and forest-fallow. The chronosequence was selected to test the hypothesis that the increase in forest-fallow age causes an improvement of soil fertility. Results highlighted discrete variations among locations in mineralogy, Al- and Feoxyhydroxides, sand, silt, pH, total organic carbon, humic carbon, total nitrogen, available phosphorous, chloride, nitrate, fluoride, and ammonium. Few differences in mineralogy, Fe-oxyhydroxides, available P, chloride, and nitrate were detected between crop fields and forest-fallow within the same location. Such differences were mostly ascribed to intrinsic fertility inherited from the parent material rather than a longer forest-fallow period. However, physicochemical soil property improvement did not occur under a forest age of 50 years (the longest forest-fallow considered), indicating that harmonization of intrinsic fertility and agronomic practices may increase soil organic matter and nutrient contents more than a long forest-fallow period.
2022
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