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Soil acidification and P, K, Ca and Mg budget as affected by sheep grazing and crop rotation in a long-term integrated crop-livestock system in southern Brazil

Alves, Lucas Aquino, Denardin, Luiz Gustavo de Oliveira, Martins, Amanda Posselt, Anghinoni, Ibanor, Carvalho, Paulo César de Faccio, Tiecher, Tales
Geoderma 2019 v.351 pp. 197-208
Acrisols, acidification, aluminum, base saturation, calcium, cation exchange capacity, corn, crop production, crop rotation, exchangeable aluminum, fertilizers, grazing intensity, integrated agricultural systems, magnesium, nutrients, pH, phosphorus, potassium, sheep, sheep meat, soil acidification, soil depth, soil fertility, soybeans, spatial distribution, summer, temporal variation, winter, Brazil
The insertion of the animal component into the crop production system can alter the nutrient dynamics and, consequently, the soil fertility status over time. This change occurs differently according to the arrangement adopted, depending on both, the intensity and frequency of animal grazing, as well as the crop rotation system. This study was carried out aiming to evaluate the effect of sheep grazing intensity and frequency during the winter period and the crop rotation in the summer period on the (i) temporal evolution and vertical distribution of soil chemical properties, and (ii) on the nutrient (phosphorus – P, potassium – K, calcium – Ca, and magnesium – Mg) budget. The experiment was established in 2003, in a subtropical Acrisol in southern Brazil, arranged in a randomized block design with split plots. The treatments were two grazing intensities (moderate and low), two stocking methods (continuous and rotational), subdivided into two crop rotation systems (monoculture - soybean/soybean and crop rotation soybean/maize). Temporal variation of soil pH, exchangeable aluminum (Al), Ca and Mg, available P and K, base saturation, Al saturation, and cation exchange capacity (CEC) were evaluated in samples collected in 2003, 2010, 2015 and 2017, corresponding to 0, 7, 12 and 14-years after the beginning of the experiment. The vertical distribution (0–5, 5–10, 10–20, 20–30 and 30–40 cm) of these chemical properties were also evaluated 14-years after the beginning of the experiment (2017). The nutrient budget in the soil was calculated based on the initial and final available/exchangeable contents in the 0–10 cm soil layer and the inputs (fertilizers) and outputs (exportation by grain and meat) of nutrients. >95% of P, K, Ca and Mg were exported by grains and <5% by sheep meat. There was an intense acidification of the soil over the 14-years of experiment as shown by the decrease of soil pH and base saturation, and the increase of Al saturation. Crop rotation with soybean/maize increased CEC up to 5 cm soil depth and increased the available K content up to 40 cm soil depth. The available K budget was more negative in soybean monoculture due to higher grain exportation. Integrated crop-livestock system involving low grazing intensities and rotational stocking methods, coupled with crop rotation in the summer, was more efficient in the use of nutrients.