Tuesday, 11 July 2006

Human Impact on Volcanic Soils in Mexico and Chile. Presentation of an International and Interdisciplinary Project of the Commission of the European Union on REhabilitation of deteriorated VOLcanic SOils (REVOLSO Project).

Gerd Werner1, Miguel Bravo2, Jorge E. Etchevers3, Juan F. Gallardo4, Mathieu Haulon5, Marco Mazzoncini6, Monica Petri7, Christian Prat8, Jürgen Queitsch9, Andrea Vera5, Iván Vidal10, and Emma Zapata11. (1) Center for International Development and Environmental Research (CIDER), University of Giessen, Otto-Behaghel-Strasse 10 D, GIESSEN, D-35394, Germany, (2) Centro Nacional de Investigación para Producción Sostenible (CENAPROS-INIFAP), And de la Fuente 43, Col Indeco Exp Petrol, Morelia, Mich, MEX-58190, Mexico, (3) Colegio de Postgraduados, Instituto Recursos Naturales, Lab. Soil Fertility, Carretera México-Texcoco km 35,5, Montecillo, Edo de México, MEX-56230, Mexico, (4) Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Inst. de Recursos Naturales y Agrobiología, Cordel de Merinas 40, Aptado. 257, Salamanca, E-37071, Spain, (5) Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala (UAT), Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, Avenida Universidad No. 1, Tlaxcala, MEX-90.000, Mexico, (6) Universidad di Pisa, Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerche Agroambientali (CIRAA), Via Vecchia di Marina 6, San Piero a Grado - PISA, I-56100, Italy, (7) Universidad di Pisa, Centro interdipartimentale di Richerche Agroambientali (CIRAA), Via Vecchia di Marina 6, San Piero a Grado - PISA, I-56100, Italy, (8) Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Laboratoire d'étude des Transferts en Hydrologie et Environnement (LTHE), Rey Inchatiro 335, Col. Vista Bella, Morelia, MEX-58090, Mexico, (9) Universidad Autónoma de Chapingo, Dept. of Economy, Carretera México-Texcoco km 38,5, Chapingo, Texcoco, MEX-56230, Mexico, (10) Universidad de Concepción (UDEC), Fac. de Agronomía, Depto de Suelos, Vicente Mendez 595, Chillán, Chile, (11) Colegio de Postgraduados, Inst. de Socioeconomía, Desarrollo Rural, Carretera México-Texcoco km 35,5, Montecillo Texcoco, MEX-56230, Mexico

The REVOLSO Project is constituted by nine different institutions, five from Latin America and four from Europe. The aim of this paper is to present REVOLSO's first results from its project "Alternative Agriculture for a Sustainable REhabilitation of Deteriorated VOLcanic SOils in Mexico and Chile (REVOLSO)” due to human impact on volcanic soils. On severely eroded and indurated but reclaimed volcanic paleosoils in Mexico and Chile suitable cultivation practices are identified to prevent erosion and to rehabilitate deteriorated volcanic soils. In the Transmexican Neovolcanic Belt these soils have been degraded by human impact, from the beginning of agriculture activities (3000 years ago); but soil degradation was even more accelerated since the arrival of Spaniards (1519). In this paper, the effects on different cultivation techniques and agroforestry on the sustainability of the soil fertility, soil structure, erosivity, and erodibility after rehabilitation of volcanic soils have been monitored. The socio-economic situation of the rural population, including the role of women and young people, is evaluated. The evolution of the cultivation techniques by the small holders (campesinos) and the changes of their living conditions are followed up with investigations on sustainability of the measures by the rural population. Research hypothesis and actual work

The prosperity of disadvantaged rural regions depends on the integrity, quality, and proper management practices of their natural resources (water, soils, forestry). In a number of rural regions in Mexico and Chile, marginal rural communities are living in mountain areas with volcanic soils deteriorated as a consequence of high population pressure. Subsistence agriculture, small scale production, scarcity of agricultural land, destruction of the environment by deforestation causing soil erosion and migration to the cities are the causes of rural poverty. The rehabilitation of indurated volcanic soils for agricultural use provokes a decrease of pH-values, an imbalance between Mg2+ and K+, an accumulation of SOC and an increment of the C/N ratio, in addition to a severe N-loss due to the increase of runoff and sediment transport of recent rehabilitated indurated surfaces. An accumulation of available P has been observed, as well as an increase of values of Ca2+ and Na+ in 2005. Sites fertilized with organic matter products surprisingly did not show better yields in relation to controls. Recently rehabilitated ex-indurated surfaces showed a fourfold increment of runoff and soil losses compared with sites rehabilitated 14 years ago. Results from the REVOLSO Project look for the improvement of the life standard of the campesinos through the rehabilitation and better management of degraded environment of their rural areas. Soil rehabilitation is done through sustainable agriculture and agroforestry, keeping in mind the actual campesino's demands. REVOLSO involves to the campesinos in solving the scientific and technological problems, looking for the best practice for a sustainable agriculture-technology. The dissemination of the results among the rural communities and the follow up of implementation and the acceptance of the proposed new-technology package is essential to achieve sustainable socio-economical development of those rural communities.

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