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01.11.2017 | Original Article | Ausgabe 22/2017

Environmental Earth Sciences 22/2017

Degradation of Mollisols quality after deforestation and cultivation on a transect with Mediterranean condition

Zeitschrift:
Environmental Earth Sciences > Ausgabe 22/2017
Autoren:
Salar Rezapour, O. Alipour

Abstract

In order to assess the impact of deforestation—cultivation on soil quality attributes of Mollisols under native forest, 8 soil pedons and 32 soil cores were described and sampled from four different soil types of forest and adjacent cultivated soil on a transect. Deforestation and subsequent cultivation have resulted in a remarkable change in the morphological and physicochemical soil properties, thereby contributing to extensive land degradation through nutrient depletion and poor physical conditions. Without significant variation, 14–20% higher bulk density and 10–22% lower porosity were observed in the cultivated soils compared to those of the forest lands which have, in turn, contributed to the structural deterioration of the cultivated soil. A pronounced depletion has occurred at the values of organic carbon (60–85%), total N (67–88%), cation exchange capacity (9–18%), and exchangeable cations (4–60%) after deforestation—cultivation showing a degrading and declining effect of deforestation on soil fertility indices. Changes in particle-size distribution and mainly organic matter of soils due to deforestation were responsible for a significant increase in the values of soil erodibility factor or K-factor (a rise of 10–270%). The natural forest promoted remarkably the expansion of smectite (peak of 18.2 Å) toward illite (peak of 10 Å) in a K incorporation context compared to the cultivated soil based on X-ray patterns. Soil quality index, evaluated based on 14 soil attributes, revealed that deforestation led to a negative change in the index for all soil types ranging from 18 to 43%.

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