<i>Leucaena leucocephala</i> introduction into a tropical pasture in the Chaco region of Argentina. Effects on soil carbon and total nitrogen
Keynote paper presented at the International Leucaena Conference, 1‒3 November 2018, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
The introduction of leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala), apart from increasing animal production, improves soil fertility through biological nitrogen (N) fixation and its deep-rooted system. There is limited information on carbon and N dynamics in hedgerow silvopastoral systems, particularly in the subsoil profile. The concentrations and vertical distribution of organic carbon (OC) and total N , and their fractions (particulate and associate forms) in the profile (0‒100 cm) of a 4-year-old leucaena stand in a Urochloa brizantha-Chloris gayana pasture were compared with those in the adjacent pure tropical grass
(U. brizantha) pasture. Leucaena introduction increased the OC concentration in the subsoil (20‒100 cm) by 45%, particularly the stable form (associate OC) in the deepest horizon (50‒100 cm). This was attributed to a greater abundance of leucaena roots deeper in the profile than for grass. Leucaena also enhanced by 7.6% the N concentration (from 0.131 to 0.141%) in the topsoil (0‒20 cm) associated with an increment in the labile form (particulate organic N), due to leaf deposition, recycling of animal feces and nodule-N turnover from N fixation. Leucaena establishment has the potential to improve soil fertility and hence availability of N to companion grass growth, and can be utilized as a greenhouse gas mitigation strategy.