Quality and Functioning of Volcanic Soils

UACh Researchers: Oscar Thiers, José Dörner, Oscar Martínez, Felipe Zúñiga, Galo Valdebenito, Víctor Gerding

Associated Researchers: Leandro Paulino (UdeC) Rainer Horn (U Kiel) Friederike Lang y Helmer Schack-Kirchner (UFreiburg)

In Chile, a great deal of agricultural and forestry activities are carried out in soils derived from volcanic ashes (Andisols) which are located between the regions of Maule and Aysén. Andisols have extreme natural characteristics (e.g. low bulk density, high phosphorus retention), they account for small proportion of land areas in the world but they are most important in Chile (60% of arable land), still there is little information available on these soils, which highlights the important contribution to the knowledge that could be provided from Chile. In addition, these soils support a variety of uses in major altitudinal and latitudinal gradients (e.g. from pristine systems to other highly intervened between the two mountain ranges), even being exposed to soil rejuvenation as a result of the addition of new deposits of volcanic ash.

This line of research (RL-2) will evaluate the impact of land development (RL-1) as well as type and intensity of management on the quality and performance of soils derived from volcanic ash, given their spatial and temporal variability. By using proposals of indicators of soil quality and their critical values for particular and site-specific conditions of these soils, relevant information will be provided to improve the efficiency in the use of resources (water and soil nutrients) for forestry and agricultural production systems (RL-3).

The objectives of RL-2 will be achieved through projects led by researchers that are part of the nucleus and through new research proposals seeking to integrate different disciplines (Agronomy, Engineering, Plant Physiology, Botany, among others) and to include new field and laboratory methodologies for studying soils.