Soil microbial biomass in an agroforestry system of Northeast Brazil

Rosane C. Rodrigues, Ricardo A. Araújo, Clésio S. Costa, Antônio J.T. Lima, Maria E. Oliveira, José A.A. Cutrim Jr, Francisco N.S. Santos, Jocélio S. Araújo, Vilma M. Santos, Ademir S.F. Araújo


Agroforestry systems (AFS) are considered alternative land use options to help prevent soil degradation and improve soil microbial biomass and organic C status. However, it is unclear how different densities of babassu palm [Attalea speciosa (syn. Orbignya phalerata)], which is an important tree in Northeast Brazil, affect the soil microbial biomass. We investigated the soil microbial biomass C and activity under AFS with different densities of babassu palm associated with Brachiaria brizantha grass. Soil microbial biomass C (MBC), soil microbial biomass N (MBN), MBC:total organic C ratio, fluorescein diacetate hydrolysis and dehydrogenase activity showed highest values in plots with high density of babassu palm. On the other hand, the respiratory quotient (qCO2) was significantly greater in plots without babassu palm. Brachiaria brizantha in monoculture may promote C losses from the soil, but AFS with high density of babassu palm may increase the potential of soils to accumulate C.

Keywords: Enzyme activity, tropical soil, babassu palm, silvopastoral system, soil quality.

DOI: 10.17138/TGFT(3)41-48

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