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Title: Soil quality evaluation using Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF) in Brazilian oxisols with contrasting texture

item CHERUBIN, MAURICIO - Universidad De Sao Paulo
item TORMENA, CASSIO - University Of Maringa
item Karlen, Douglas

Submitted to: Brazilian Journal of Soil Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/12/2016
Publication Date: 1/18/2017
Citation: Cherubin, M.R., Tormena, C.A., Karlen, D.L. 2017. Soil quality evaluation using Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF) in Brazilian oxisols with contrasting texture. Brazilian Journal of Soil Science. 41.

Interpretive Summary: Maintaining or improving soil quality/health (SQ) is essential for achieving sustainable agricultural systems that will meet global food, feed, fiber and fuel demands. This study was conducted to determine if the Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF) could detect SQ changes in response to diverse land use and management practices in Brazilian subtropical conditions. The SMAF, initially developed in the U.S.A., was sensitive for detecting SQ changes in Brazil. Therefore, the SMAF could be used by consultants and land managers as a tool for assessing and monitoring effects of land use and agricultural practices in this region, one of the most important agricultural producing areas of the world. This information will be useful to farmers, land managers, conservationists, and soil scientists who are striving to define appropriate soil quality/health indicators in agricultural areas in Brazil.

Technical Abstract: To ensure current land use strategies and management practices are economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable, tools and techniques for assessing and quantifying changes in soil quality/health (SQ) need to be developed through rigorous research and potential use by consultants, and other land managers who provide guidance for enhancing field-crop productivity while maintaining or improving environmental health. The Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF) was developed in the U.S.A. and has been used as a tool for assessing SQ impacts of agricultural practices in that region and elsewhere throughout the world. An initial study using SMAF to evaluate land use change (LUC) to sugarcane expansion effects in Brazil was recently published, but additional research for a variety of Brazilian subtropical conditions is still needed. Data from five studies in southern Brazil were used to evaluate the potential of SMAF for assessing diverse land use and management practices on SQ. The five studies examined: (i) long-term orchard management for oranges; (ii) long-term LUC from native vegetation to agricultural crops; (iii) short-term tillage effects on cassava production; (iv) fertilization strategies and tillage management practices; and (v) sowing row and inter-row effects in a long-term no-tillage soil. The soils were classified as Oxisols, with clay content ranging from 180 to 800 g kg-1. Six SQ indicators (pH, P, K, bulk density, organic C and microbial biomass) were individually scored using SMAF curves and integrated into an overall Soil Quality Index (SQI) focusing on chemical, physical and biological sectors. The SMAF was sensitive for detecting SQ changes induced by different land uses and management practices within this wide textural range of Brazilian subtropical soils. The SMAF scoring curve algorithms properly transformed the indicator values expressed in different units into unitless scores ranging between 0 - 1, thus enabling the individual indicators to be combined into an overall index for evaluating land use and management effects on soil functions. Soil sector scores (i.e., chemical, physical and biological) identify the principal soil limitations and can therefore be used to establish priorities for specific management actions. We conclude that SMAF can be used as a tool for assessing SQ in Brazilian soils, thus helping farmers, land managers and politicians to take/make better decisions regarding sustainable land use and management practices.