Short-term soil CO2 emission after conventional and reduced tillage of a no-till sugar cane area in southern Brazil
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The impact of tillage systems on soil CO2 emission is a complex issue as different soil types are managed in various ways, from no-till to intensive land preparation. In southern Brazil, the adoption of a new management option has arisen most recently, with no-tillage as well as no burning of crops residues left on soil surface after harvesting, especially in sugar cane areas. Although such practice has helped to restore soil carbon, the tillage impact on soil carbon loss in such areas has not been widely investigated. This study evaluated the effect of moldboard plowing followed by offset disk harrow and chisel plowing on clay oxisolCO(2) emission in a sugar cane field treated with no-tillage and high crop residues input in the last 6 years. Emissions after tillage were compared to undisturbed soil CO2 emissions during a 4-week period by using an LI-6400 system coupled to a portable soil chamber. Conventional tillage caused the highest emission during almost the whole period studied, except for the efflux immediately following tillage, when the reduced plot produced the highest peak. The lowest emissions were recorded 7 days after tillage, at the end of a dry period, when soil moisture reached its lowest rate. A linear regression between Soil CO2 effluxes and soil moisture in the no-till and conventional plots corroborate the fact that moisture, and not soil temperature, was a controlling factor. Total soil CO2 loss was huge and indicates that the adoption of reduced tillage would considerably decrease soil carbon dioxide emission in our region, particularly during the summer season and when growers leave large amounts of crop residues on the soil surface. Although it is known that crop residues are important for restoring soil carbon, our result indicates that an amount equivalent to approximately 30% of annual crop carbon residues could be transferred to the atmosphere, in a period of 4 weeks only, when conventional tillage is applied on no-tilled soils. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.