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Does carbon storage of pastures contribute to a climate smart cattle farming after Amazonian deforestation. [P76]

Blanfort V., Stahl C., Fontaine S., Picon-Cochard C., Freycon V., Blanc L., Bonal D., Soussana J.F., Lecomte P., Klumpp K.. 2015. In : Building tomorrow¿s research agenda and bridging the science-policy gap. Montpellier : CIRAD, p. 159-159. Climate-Smart Agriculture 2015 : Global Science Conference. 3, 2015-03-16/2015-03-18, Montpellier (France).

More than 15% of Amazon forest has been converted to pastures these last decades. Some authors argued the world's permanent pastures (30 % of total land) could potentially offset up to 4% of the global GHG emissions, having a carbon (C) storage potential equal to 0.5 Mg C.ha-1.yr-1(Schulze et al 2009). Accordingly, pastures are good candidates to increase soil uptake C in soil while ensuring a basic food production. Here we would like to assess the effects of tropical forest conversion to cattle pasture in the French Amazonia (French Guiana), by following the long-term dynamics of soil C stocks of permanent tropical pastures (Brachiaria humidicola) after deforestation from 1970. A soil inventory campaign was performed to analyse soil C and N stocks (to 1 m depth) along a pasture chronosequence of 6 months to 36 years old pastures and 4 native forest sites (total 24 sites). The annual C sequestration potential demonstrated by the chronosequence, was compared with eddy covariance flux measurements on 2 pastures and one native forest. Our study shows that old (= 24 years) tropical pastures resettle the recurrent C storage observed in native forest. These pastures stored between 1.8 ± 0.5 and 5.3 ± 2.1 tC ha-1 yr-1 compared with 2.6 ± 0.5 tC ha-1 yr-1 for the nearby native forest. Our finding show that old tropical pastures accumulate carbon in soil organic matter, particularly in the deep soil layers (0.2-1 m) and without loss of soil fertility. It suggests that such pastures can be exploited by farmers in the long term with appropriate practices (no fire and no overgrazing, but a mixture of grasses and legumes and a grazing rotation plan). Clearly, efforts to curb deforestation are a priority in order to preserve forest biodiversity and C stocks. But it seems now that, in a climate-smart agriculture way, the current challenge is to manage these deforested areas to maintain the productivity of agricultural ecosystems and in the same time their capacity to mitigate GES.

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