Soil quality indicators after conversion of “murundu” fields into no-tillage cropping in the Brazilian Cerrado

Abstract: The objective of this work was to evaluate changes in soil quality due to different times of adoption of the no-tillage system in “murundu” (mound) fields converted to agriculture, as well as to identify the best indicators to explain these changes. The study was carried out on a Plinthic Altisol, in the municipality of Portelândia, in the state of Goiás, Brazil. The treatments consisted of different times of conversion and of adoption of the no-tillage system - 8, 12, and 17 years - and of native area between the mounds and on top of the mounds (reference area). After 17 years of the adoption of no-tillage, there was an increase in organic carbon and nitrogen, as well as in their particulate fractions in relation to the reference area. The microbiological attributes showed greater values in the 17-year no-tillage period compared with the native area. For soil aggregation, 12 years of adoption of the no-tillage system were enough to show an increase in this variable. The main attributes to be used as soil quality indicators are microbial biomass carbon, the carbon management index, and the microbial quotient.