Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-335
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-335
 
22 Aug 2022
22 Aug 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Back to the future- Conservative grassland management for Anthropocene soils in the changed landscapes of Uruguay?

Ina Säumel1, Leonardo R. Ramírez1, Sarah Tietjen2, Marcos Barra3, and Erik Zagal4 Ina Säumel et al.
  • 1Integrative Research Institute THESys Transformation of Human-Environment-Systems Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, Berlin, 10099, Germany
  • 2Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ) e.V., Theodor-Echtermeyer-Weg 1, 14979 Großbeeren, Germany
  • 3Städtisches Klinikum Dessau, Auenweg 38, 06847 Dessau-Roßlau, Germany
  • 4Departamento de Suelos y Recursos Naturales, Universidad de Concepción, Campus Chillán, Vicente Méndez 595, Chillán, Chile

Abstract. The ‘soils of the anthropocene’ are predominately agricultural. To understand them, we analysed agri- and silvicultural intensification of Uruguayan grasslands in a country wide survey on fertility proxies, pH and trace metals in topsoils originating from different land uses. We observed a loss of nutrients, trace metals and organic matter from grassland, crops and timber plantations, and its accumulation in the topsoils of riverine forests. The translocation of nutrients and organic matter across the landscape to the erosion base depends on local land use trajectories. Increasing soil acidification is driving a positive feedback loop, and land use intensification is leading to degradation of local black soils within a few decades. Our data raises questions about the resilience and carrying capacity of Uruguayan soils with regard to currently implemented highly productive management forms, including the use of timber plantation for carbon sequestration, and supports more conservative forms of extensive management on the grassland biome.

Ina Säumel et al.

Status: open (until 29 Oct 2022)

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Ina Säumel et al.

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Short summary
We analysed intensification of Uruguayan grasslands in a country wide survey on fertility proxies, pH and trace metals in topsoils. We observed a loss of nutrients, trace metals and organic matter from grassland, crops and timber plantations, and its accumulation in riverine forests. This raises questions about the carrying capacity of Uruguayan soils with regard to currently implemented intensification strategies and supports more conservative forms of extensive management of grasslands.