The effects of slash burning on ecosystem nutrients during the land preparation phase of shifting cultivation
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Christian P. Giardina; Robert L. Sanford; Ingrid C. Døckersmith; Victor J. Jaramillo
Publication Year: 2000

Cataloging Information

  • Africa
  • agriculture
  • ash
  • Asia
  • Australia
  • biomass
  • Brazil
  • carbon
  • Central America
  • convection
  • Costa Rica
  • cover type conversion
  • Ethiopia
  • Europe
  • fire management
  • forest management
  • India
  • Italy
  • land use
  • litter
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • nitrogen
  • nutrients
  • Peru
  • pH
  • phosphorus
  • plant nutrients
  • season of fire
  • slash
  • slash and burn
  • soil nutrients
  • soil organic matter
  • soil temperature
  • soils
  • South America
  • tropical forests
  • volatilization
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: February 25, 2022
FRAMES Record Number: 42799
Tall Timbers Record Number: 17929
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


The most commonly observed change in soil following slash-and-burn clearing of tropical forest is a short-term increase in nutrient availability. Studies of shifting cultivation commonly cite the incorporation of nutrient-rich ash from consumed aboveground biomass into soil as the reason for this change. The effects of soil heating on nutrient availability have been examined only rarely in field studies of slash-and-burn, and soil heating as a mechanism of nutrient release is most often assumed to be of minor importance in the field. Few budgets for above and belowground nutrient flux have been developed in the tropics, and a survey of results from field and laboratory studies indicates that soils are sufficiently heated during most slash-and-burn events, particularly in dry and monsoonal climates, to cause significant, even substantial release of nutrients from non-plant-available into plant-available forms in soil. Conversely, large aboveground losses of nutrients during and after burning often result in low quantities of nutrients that are released to soil. Assessing the biophysical sustainability of an agricultural practice requires detailed information about nutrient flux and loss incurred during management. To this end, current conceptual models of shifting cultivation should be revised to more accurately describe these fluxes and losses.

Giardina, C. P., R. L. Sanford, I. C. Dockersmith, and V. J. Jaramillo. 2000. The effects of slash burning on ecosystem nutrients during the land preparation phase of shifting cultivation. Plant and Soil, v. 220, no. 1-2, p. 247-260.