Islands of fertility: Soil improvement under indigenous homegardens in the savannas of Roraima, Brazil

  • Pinho R
  • Alfaia S
  • Miller R
 et al. 
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Homegardens are a common feature of indigenous dwellings in the savannas of Roraima, northern Brazil. In order to evaluate the effect of homegardens on soils, samples were taken in 5 sites each in the categories new homegardens (0-10-years old), established homegardens (15-35-years old) and old homegardens (more than 40-years old) and in adjacent savanna in Araçá Indigenous Land, Roraima, Brazil. For comparison, samples were also taken in forest islands located nearby, on a different soil type, under 10-year-old forest fallows and high forest. P and K showed the greatest increases over time in homegarden soils, in comparison with levels found in adjacent savanna and under forest. Ca and Mg also increased in comparison to adjacent savanna, but levels were less than found in forest soils, most likely due to the different parent material. Zn and Fe also showed increases in homegarden soils over time. Cu and Mn levels showed little relation to homegarden age, suggesting greater effects of factors of soil formation than anthropogenic influences. Values for pH were slightly higher in homegardens than in adjacent savanna, while Al was lower, although these changes were poorly fit by regression models. Soil organic matter increased over time under homegardens, but still was lower than levels found under fallows and forest. Soil fertility improvement under indigenous homegardens can be attributed mainly to deposition of residues around dwellings, although further investigation is needed on the role of trees in accessing nutrient pools at greater depths in savanna soils. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Fallow
  • Lavrado
  • Macuxi
  • Soil nutrients
  • Wapixana

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  • Rachel C. Pinho

  • Sonia S. Alfaia

  • Robert Pritchard Miller

  • Katell Uguen

  • Leovone D. Magalhães

  • Marta Ayres

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