Quantity and quality of soil organic matter as a sustainability index under different land uses in Eastern Amazon
ABSTRACT: Soil organic matter (SOM), which influences chemical, physical and biological soil attributes, is the main form of C found in the soil which can also be used as a soil sustainability index. The aim of this study was to use the quantity and quality of SOM as an indicator to determine the sustainability of different land uses (native vegetation, secondary vegetation, fruit orchards, horticultural areas, degraded pasture, improved pasture, and fields with annual crops) in the eastern Amazon. Improved pasture had higher soil C stock than the other land uses and was similar to the native vegetation, and also presented the highest quantity of C in a stable form in the soil (fraction < 53 μm). According to the C management index, improved pasture is the most similar in use to native vegetation. Changes in land use reduced the soil microbial C content, although the more conservationist systems (fruit orchards, secondary vegetation, and improved pasture) had contents similar to those of the native vegetation. The highest soil microbial quotients were found in fruit orchards and horticultural areas. Well-managed pastures were effective in accumulating C as stable forms in the soil, which demonstrates the sustainability of this land use in the region studied.