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Transfer of macro-nutrients to the atmosphere during experimental burnings in an open cerrado (Brazilian savanna)

  • Vania R. Pivello (a1) and Leopoldo M. Coutinho (a1)

Abstract

This paper presents the quantities of macro-nutrients (N, P, K, Ca, Mg and S) released from the ground layer vegetation to the atmosphere during six experimental burnings, in a Brazilian open savanna, named ‘campo-cerrado’. The values were obtained by comparing the amounts of nutrients in the fuel and in the ash resulting after the burn, in three different seasons. On average, 20.6 kg of N, 1.6kg of P, 7.1 kg of K, 12.1kg of Ca, 3.0 kg of Mg, and 3.2kg of S ha−1 were transferred from the plant biomass to the atmosphere, representing mean percentages of 95% for N, 51% for P, 44% for K, 52% for Ca, 42% for Mg, and 59% for S. The burn season showed no significant influence on the amounts of nutrients transferred to the atmosphere. Some relationships involving the quantities of macro-nutrients released, fuel moisture, the combustion efficiency during the burns, and the initial standing biomass in the area were also tested. Comparing the average output of macro-nutrients to the atmosphere obtained in this study with their inputs via rainfall, in the same area, it was estimated that three years would be an adequate interval between prescribed burnings for this campo-cerrado, to speed up nutrient recycling without impoverishing the system.

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