Soil fertility status, carbon and nitrogen stocks under cover crops and tillage regimes

Arminda Moreira de Carvalho, Robélio Leandro Marchão, Kleberson Worslley Souza, Mercedes Maria da Cunha Bustamante


The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of cover crops on the soil’s chemical fertility, in particular its carbon and nitrogen content, in a Typic Acrustox under conventional and no-tillage corn systems. We hypothesized that the no-tillage system associates with cover crops maintains or increases soil carbon and nitrogen stocks and enhance soil fertility. The no-tillage system did not present higher carbon and nitrogen stocks than conventional tillage, but resulted in higher concentrations of exchangeable bases, higher CEC, and higher base saturation in the surface soil layer, mainly under use of Canavalia brasiliensis. Carbon and nitrogen stocks (up to 40 cm depth) differ significantly between the different cover crop species. The use of Mucuna pruriens and Canavalia brasiliensis allows maintain or increase soil C and N stocks. The no-tillage system results in higher accumulation of soil organic matter (0-5 cm), and appears very likely to enhance soil fertility. The use of Canavalia brasiliensis and Mucuna pruriens in succession to corn promotes carbon sequestration and can be used to enhance soil quality in Cerrado agroecosystems.


Brazilian Cerrado; No-tillage system; Ecological intensification; Low carbon agriculture

Texto completo:



BATLLE-BAYER, L.; BATJES, N. H.; BINDRABAN, P. S. Changes in organic carbon stocks upon land use conversion in the Brazilian Cerrado: A review. Agriculture Ecossystem Environment, v. 137, n. 1-2, p. 47-58, 2010.

BAYER, C. et al. A method for estimating coefficients of soil organic matter dynamics based on long-term experiments. Soil & Tillage Research, v. 91, n. 1-2, p. 217-226, 2006.

BAYER, C. et al. Organic matter storage in a sandy clay loam Acrisol affected by tillage and cropping systems in southern Brazil. Soil & Tillage Research v. 54, p. 101-109, 2000.

BUSTAMANTE, M. M. C. et al. Soil carbon and sequestration potential in the Cerrado Region of Brazil. In: Lal R, Cerri CC, Bernoux M, Etchevers J, Cerri CEP (Eds) Carbon sequestration in soils of Latin America. 1. ed. New York: Food Product Press, 2006, cap. 14, p. 285-304.

CALEGARI, A. et al. Impact of long-term no-tillage and cropping system management on soil organic carbon in an Oxisol: a model for sustainability. Agronomy Journal, v. 100, n. 4, p. 1013-1020, 2008.

CARVALHO, A. M. et al. Chemical composition of cover plants and its effect on maize yield in no-tillage systems in the Brazilian savanna. Crop & Pasture Science, v. 63 n. 12, p. 1075-1081, 2012.

CARVALHO, A. M. et al. Characterization by solid-state CPMAS 13C NMR spectroscopy of decomposing plant residues in conventional and no-tillage systems in Central Brazil. Soil & Tillage Research, v. 101, n. 1, p. 100-107, 2009.

CARVALHO, A. M. et al. Cover plants with potential use for crop-livestock integrated systems in the Cerrado region. Pesquisa Agropecuária Brasileira, v. 46, n. 10, p. 1200-1205, 2001.

COULTER, J. A.; NAFZIGER, E. D.; WANDER, M. Soil organic matter response to cropping system and nitrogen fertilization. Agronomy Journal, v. 101, n. 3, p. 592-599, 2009.

CORBEELS, M. et al. Soil carbon storage potential of direct seeding mulch‑based cropping systems in the Cerrados of Brazil. Global Change Biology, v. 12, n. 9, p. 1773-1787, 2006.

EMBRAPA. Manual de métodos de análise de solo. 2.ed. Rio de Janeiro: Centro Nacional de Pesquisa de Solos, 2009. 627 p.

EMBRAPA. Sistema Brasileiro de Classificação de solos. 3. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Centro Nacional de Pesquisa de Solos, 2013. 353 p.

MACHADO, P. L. O. A.; SILVA, C. A.; Soil management under no-tillage systems in the tropics with special reference to Brazil. Nutrient Cycle in Agroecosystem v. 61, n. 1-2, p. 119-130, 2001.

MALTAS, A. et al. Long-term effects of continuous direct seeding mulch-based cropping systems on soil nitrogen supply in the Cerrado region of Brazil. Plant and Soil, v. 298, n. 1-2, p. 161-173, 2007.

NGWIRA, A.; SLEUTEL, S.; NEVE, S. Soil carbon dynamics as influenced by tillage and crop residue management in loamy sand and sandy loam soils under smallholder farmers conditions in Malawi. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystem, v. 92, n. 3, p. 315-328, 2012.

SAS INSTITUTE INC., System for Microsoft Windows. Release 8.01. Cary: NC, USA, CD-Rom, 2001.

SATO, J. H. et al. Methods of soil organic carbon determination in Brazilian savannah soils. Scientia Agricola, v. 71, n. 4, p. 302-308, 2014.

SOIL SURVEY STAFF. Keys to Soil Taxonomy. 11. ed. United States, Washington: Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 2010.

TIECHER, T.; RHEINHEIMER, D. S.; CALEGARI, A. Soil organic phosphorus forms under different soil management systems and winter crops, in a long term experiment. Soil & Tillage Research, v. 124, n. 1, 57-67, 2012.

WALKLEY, A.; BLACK, I. A. An examination of the Degtjareff method for determining soil organic matter and a proposed modification of the chromic acid titration method. Soil Science, v. 37, n. 1, p. 29-38, 1934.

ZOTARELLI, L. et al. Influence of no-tillage and frequency of a green manure legume in crop rotations for balancing N outputs and preserving soil organic C stocks. Field & Crops Research, v.132, especial issue, p. 185-195.

Revista Ciência Agronômica ISSN 1806-6690 (online) 0045-6888 (impresso), Site:, e-mail: - Fone: (85) 3366.9702 - Expediente: 2ª a 6ª feira - de 7 às 17h.