Fallow Reduces Soil Losses and Increases Carbon Stock in Caatinga

ABSTRACT This study aimed at evaluating whether 10 years of fallow was sufficient to restore a degraded hillslope in the semi-arid Caatinga biome, Brazil. For this purpose, runoff, erosion, loss of nutrients and organic carbon were measured on two comparable hillslopes: one was left fallow and the other degraded caused by overgrazing. Fallow management reduced runoff (36%), soil loss (65%) and organic carbon loss (81%) in comparison with the degraded hillslope. However, the fallow did not significantly reduce nutrient loss. Animal grazing has been shown to influence the nutrient cycle in the soil. The loss of organic carbon shows significant correlation with the loss of other nutrients, and may be used to estimate nutrient loss. Results show that a decade of fallow did not promote significant changes in the loss of nutrients, but was enough to reduce runoff, erosion and loss of organic carbon.

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