Impacts of land use change on carbon and nitrogen stocks in an Andosol in Michoacan, Mexico

Document Type : Original Article


1 Faculty of Forestry Sciences, Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon

2 Edaphology, Instituto Tecnologico de El Salto, Durango, Mexico


Changes in vegetation and land use alter the biogeochemical cycles of soil C and N, as a result of agricultural practices that alter soil quality and function. Adopting sustainable agricultural practices improves soil health by increasing its capacity to store C in the long term. The objective of this study was to evaluate the content and stocks of C and N and the C:N ratio, under different land uses in an Andosol. Four composite soil samples were collected in a pine-oak forest, conventional avocado, organic avocado and organic macadamia soil uses at 0-20 and 20-40 cm soil depths (n=32). The total C content was determined by the Walkley and Black method (Woerner, 1989), the total N by the Kjeldahl method with the Velp Scientifica's UDK159 model equipment (Bremner and Mulvaney 1982). In order to detect significant differences, a two factor analysis of variance (ANOVA) was applied C (%), N (%), SOC (Mg ha-1), Nt (Mg ha-1) and C:N ratio variables. When applied, a Tukey comparison of means (p≤0.05) was performed. The results indicate that conventional avocado land use presented the highest C and N content at both soil depths (C: 9.22 and 7.32%, N: 0.70 and 0.40%), while the C:N ratio was higher in the forest land use in the first depth (14.51) and higher in the organic avocado land use in the second soil depth (25.83). The stock of SOC varied from 65.27 to 267.30 (Mg ha-1) and the Nitrogen from 4.61 to 14.61 (Mg ha-1). The C:N ratio showed significant variations between land uses, specifically in the first depth it ranged from 10.33 (O. Macadamia) to 14.51 (Forest), while in the second depth it varied from 13.09 (Conventional) to 25.83 (O avocado). The pine-oak forest, organic avocado and organic macadamia systems, with the smallest reseivors, were statistically similar only in C content, while the conventional system, with the largest stocks, was differente in C and N content. The change in land use from forest to agricultural caused a significant effect on the carbon and nitrogen content and the stocks in the Andosol soil, which may be attributes to the different agricultural applied practices such as pruning, pesticides and fertilization used in the organic and conventional regimes, respectively.
The C:N ratio indicates that mineralization rates decrease as depth increases because the quantity and quality of soil organic matter also decreases. Specifically, the conventional avocado practice compared to organic avocado and macadamia practices maximized crop yields.


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