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Title: 'Formiguers', a historical system of soil fertilization (and biochar production?)
Author: Olarieta, José Ramón
Padró i Caminal, Roc
Massip, G.
Rodríguez Ochoa, Rafael
Tello, Enric
Keywords: Fertilitat del sòl
Gestió dels ecosistemes
Ús del sòl
Nutrients (Medi ambient)
Soil fertility
Ecosystem management
Land use
Nutrients (Ecology)
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Elsevier B.V.
Abstract: 'Formiguers' are structures similar to charcoal-kilns that were used to burn piles of biomass with a soil cover in order to produce fertilizers for agricultural plots. Their use was widespread in Spain up to the 1960s and similar structures are still in use in India and Bhutan. Our objective was to study the effects of the 'formiguer' on its soil cover in terms of changes in nutrient availability. We built an experimental 0.5 m3-'formiguer' with 68 kg of plant material with a 12% moisture content and 550 kg of soil with a 16% moisture content. The content of organic carbon and mineral nitrogen decreased in the soil cover as a result of burning. After aerobic incubation all samples had a similar content of mineral nitrogen. Exchangeable potassium and total and labile phosphorus increased after burning as a result of the soil cover mixing with the ashes of the biomass as the 'formiguer' collapsed during burning in the first two cases, while mineralization of organic compounds produced the increase in labile phosphorus. This input of nutrients for the agricultural plots occurs at a net loss of 0.4-2.5 Mg organic C.ha-1. Very small amounts of charcoal were produced and this may be the reason for their low occurrence in soils today. Burning of 'formiguers' required the harvest of vegetation from a considerable forest area (10-25 ha per hectare of agricultural land) and represented a significant disturbance of these systems.
Note: Versió postprint del document publicat a:
It is part of: Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment, 2011, vol. 140, num. 1-2, p. 27-33
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ISSN: 0167-8809
Appears in Collections:Articles publicats en revistes (Història Econòmica, Institucions, Política i Economia Mundial)

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