Soil carbon storage in silvopasture and related land-use systems in the brazilian cerrado

J Environ Qual. 2011 May-Jun;40(3):833-41. doi: 10.2134/jeq2010.0162.


Silvopastoral management of fast-growing tree plantations is becoming popular in the Brazilian Cerrado (savanna). To understand the influence of such systems on soil carbon (C) storage, we studied C content in three aggregate size classes in six land-use systems (LUS) on Oxisols in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The systems were a native forest, a treeless pasture, 24- and 4-yr-old eucalyptus ( sp.) plantations, and 15- and 4-yr-old silvopastures of fodder grass plus animals under eucalyptus. From each system, replicated soil samples were collected from four depths (0-10, 10-20, 20-50, and 50-100 cm), fractionated into 2000- to 250-, 250- to 53-, and <53-μm size classes representing macroaggregates, microaggregates, and silt + clay, respectively, and their C contents determined. Macroaggregate was the predominant size fraction under all LUS, especially in the surface soil layers of tree-based systems. In general, C concentrations (g kg soil) in the different aggregate size fractions did not vary within the same depth. The soil organic carbon (SOC) stock (Mg C ha) to 1-m depth was highest under pasture compared with other LUS owing to its higher soil bulk density. The soils under all LUS had higher C stock compared with other reported values for managed tropical ecosystems: down to 1 m, total SOC stock values ranged from 461 Mg ha under pasture to 393 Mg ha under old eucalyptus. Considering the possibility for formation and retention of microaggregates within macroggregates in low management-intensive systems such as silvopasture, the macroaggregate dynamics in the soil seem to be a good indicator of its C storage potential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • Animals
  • Brazil
  • Carbon / analysis*
  • Carbon Sequestration*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Eucalyptus / growth & development
  • Fertilizers
  • Forestry*
  • Livestock
  • Particle Size*
  • Poaceae
  • Soil / analysis*


  • Fertilizers
  • Soil
  • Carbon