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A soil quality index for subtropical sandy soils under different Eucalyptus harvest residue managements

Abstract

Eucalyptus harvest residues are attractive energy production resources for the forestry industry. However, their removal can have adverse impacts on soil quality and forest productivity, especially in sandy soils. In this study, we assessed the effects of Eucalyptus harvest residue managements with variable intensity on forest productivity and on physical, chemical, and biological indicators of the soil quality. The experiment was conducted in a Quartzipsamment (33 g kg−1 clay) planted with Eucalyptus saligna in Barra do Ribeiro in southern Brazil. Before the Eucalyptus was planted, residues from the previous rotation were subjected to five different management treatments: (1) FRM, in which all forest residues (bark, branches, leaves, and litter) were allowed to remain on the soil and only trunk wood was removed; (2) FRMB, in which was identical to FRM except that bark was also removed; (3) FRMBr, in which only trunk wood and branches were removed; (4) FRR, which involved removing all types of residues (bark, branches, leaves, and litter); and, (5) FRRs, in which all forest residues from the previous rotation were removed, and leaves and branches from the new plantation were prevented from falling onto the soil surface using a shade net. Six years after planting, soil samples were collected at four different depths (0–2.5, 2.5–5, 5–10, and 10–20 cm) to determine 17 soil chemical, physical, and biological indicators. The results were combined into a soil quality index (SQI) using the principal component analysis approach. The SQI reduced by 30%, in the 0–20 cm layer, due to removal of harvest residues from the previous rotation, and collection of litter before it falls on the ground. The main drivers of SQI reduction were the principal components associated with soil organic matter and biological activity. Furthermore, the SQI was positively linearly related to tree height at P < 0.01 and to tree diameter at breast height at P = 0.07. The adverse impact on soil quality and forest productivity in our study indicates that removal of Eucalyptus harvest residues from sandy soils should be avoided.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to CMPC for enabling assessment of the field experiment.

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Correspondence to Jackson Freitas Brilhante de São José.

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Project funding: This research was funded by CMPC, Fapergs (Innovation and Technology Network of Low Carbon Agriculture and adapted to Climate Change in Rio Grande do Sul State), CNPq, RCGI (Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Innovation—USP), FAPESP, Shell Brasil and ANP.

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Corresponding editor: Yanbo Hu.

Guest editor: Raul Antonio Sperotto.

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de São José, J.F.B., Cherubin, M.R., Vargas, L.K. et al. A soil quality index for subtropical sandy soils under different Eucalyptus harvest residue managements. J. For. Res. (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11676-022-01507-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11676-022-01507-z

Keywords

  • Forest residues
  • Soil health
  • Soil organic carbon
  • Microbial biomass
  • Soil conservation