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Long term effects of manure, charcoal and mineral fertilization on crop production and fertility on a highly weathered Central Amazonian upland soil

Steiner, Christoph, Teixeira, Wenceslau G., Lehmann, Johannes, Nehls, Thomas, de Macêdo, Jeferson Luis Vasconcelos, Blum, Winfried E. H., Zech, Wolfgang
Plant and soil 2007 v.291 no.1-2 pp. 275-290
Oryza sativa, Sorghum bicolor, aluminum, calcium, carbon, charcoal, composts, crops, field experimentation, forest litter, grain yield, leaching, long term effects, magnesium, mineral fertilizers, nutrient availability, phosphorus, plant growth, poultry manure, rice, rooting, soil organic matter, soil pH, split application, tropical soils, upland soils, Brazil
Application of organic fertilizers and charcoal increase nutrient stocks in the rooting zone of crops, reduce nutrient leaching and thus improve crop production on acid and highly weathered tropical soils. In a field trial near Manaus (Brazil) 15 different amendment combinations based on equal amounts of carbon (C) applied through chicken manure (CM), compost, charcoal, and forest litter were tested during four cropping cycles with rice (Oryza sativa L.) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L.) in five replicates. CM amendments resulted in the highest (P < 0.05) cumulative crop yield (12.4 Mg ha-¹) over four seasons. Most importantly, surface soil pH, phosphorus (P), calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg) were significantly enhanced by CM. A single compost application produced fourfold more grain yield (P < 0.05) than plots mineral fertilized in split applications. Charcoal significantly improved plant growth and doubled grain production if fertilized with NPK in comparison to the NPK-fertilizer without charcoal (P < 0.05). The higher yields caused a significantly greater nutrient export in charcoal-amended fields, but available nutrients did not decrease to the same extent as on just mineral fertilized plots. Exchangeable soil aluminum (Al) was further reduced if mineral fertilizer was applied with charcoal (from 4.7 to 0 mg kg-¹). The resilience of soil organic matter (SOM) in charcoal amended plots (8 and 4% soil C loss, mineral fertilized or not fertilized, respectively) indicates the refractory nature of charcoal in comparison to SOM losses over 20 months in CM (27%), compost amended (27%), and control plots (25% loss).