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Carbon balance and soil health response to cover crops in Brazilian Cerrado

Grant number: 22/16368-6
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2023
Effective date (End): November 30, 2025
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agronomy - Soil Science
Principal Investigator:Maurício Roberto Cherubin
Grantee:Victória Santos Souza
Host Institution: Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil
Host Company:Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Escola Politécnica (EP)
Associated research grant:20/15230-5 - Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Innovation - RCG2I, AP.PCPE


Mitigating climate changes and combating food insecurity are the main challenges for the humankind in the next decades. In Brazil, land use change and agricultural activities are the main source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and therefore, the adoption of best management practices that increase soil carbon (C) stocks (CO2 removal) and reduce GHG emissions is the foundation for designing more sustainable cropping systems in Brazil. Our overall objective is to evaluate the medium- and long-term impact of crop biodiversification using cover crops after soybean cultivation on soil C balance, soil health and crop yields in two key regions of the Brazilian Cerrado. Two experimental areas will be evaluated namely, a 5-year old experiment located in Rio Verde - Goiás, and a 9-year old experiment in Rondonópolis - Mato Grosso. The experiment comprises cover crop treatments after soybean (main crop) cultivation. Changes in total soil C and N stocks will be quantified (0-30 cm and 0-100 cm), in addition to the SOM fractions obtained by the physical fractionation method. Furthermore, fluxes of CO2, N2O, and CH4gases will be measured for 2 years, which will later be used to estimate the soil C balance.An integrated assessment of soil health (0-30 cm), including soil chemical, physical and biological indicators will be performed. Finally, soybean yield will be also quantified.The expected results of this project will be useful for the design of a more sustainable cropping system for the Cerrado region. In addition, the scientific database will serve to improve national programs such as the Brazilian Low Carbon Agriculture and Climate Adaptation Policy and will be valuable for future carbon agriculture programs in Brazil,helping public and private initiatives related to C markets in Brazilian agriculture.

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