Plant and Soil

, Volume 291, Issue 1–2, pp 275–290 | Cite as

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

  • Christoph Steiner
  • Wenceslau G. Teixeira
  • Johannes Lehmann
  • Thomas Nehls
  • Jeferson Luis Vasconcelos de Macêdo
  • Winfried E. H. Blum
  • Wolfgang Zech
Original Paper


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).


Black carbon Brazil Organic agriculture Oxisol Terra Preta de Indio 



The research was conducted within SHIFT ENV 45, a German–Brazilian cooperation and financed by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF), Germany and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Brazil (BMBF No. 0339641 5A, CNPq 690003/98–6). A financial contribution was given by the doctoral scholarship program of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. We are grateful for the fieldworkers’ help particularly Luciana Ferreira da Silva and Franzisco Aragão Simão and the laboratory technician Marcia Pereira de Almeida. Critical comments and help were given by Prof. Dr. William I. Woods, Dr. Bruno Glaser, Jago Birk, and Heiko Grosch.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christoph Steiner
    • 1
  • Wenceslau G. Teixeira
    • 2
  • Johannes Lehmann
    • 3
  • Thomas Nehls
    • 1
  • Jeferson Luis Vasconcelos de Macêdo
    • 2
  • Winfried E. H. Blum
    • 4
  • Wolfgang Zech
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Soil Science and Soil GeographyUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  2. 2.Embrapa Amazonia Ocidental, CP 319ManausBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Crop and Soil SciencesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  4. 4.Institute of Soil ResearchUniversity of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU)ViennaAustria

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