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    Land degradation is a global problem caused by improper agricultural practices. In tropical China, the rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) plantations are predominantly practiced on forest-cleared lands, considering their sustainable land management potential compared to annual cropping. However, all rubber plantations may not have similar land management capacity. Soil quality index (SQI) can reveal the overall soil status with a single score, which is an efficient tool to evaluate the soil quality of each category of rubber plantations. We investigated 23 soil physical and chemical parameters of three categories of rubber plantations and a primary rainforest, and derived SQI based on these parameters. Soil samples were collected from a rubber monoculture (RM), a rubber-Camellia sinensis agroforestry (RT), a rubber-Dracaena cochinchinensis agroforestry (RD), and a primary rainforest (RF). The results showed that the SQI value of the RM decreased by 15.50% compared to the RF, with a significant degree of soil nutrient loss (18.90%). This indicates that monocultural rubber cultivation is causing land degradation to some extent. However, the SQI was significantly enhanced by rubber-based agroforestry practices (25.30% by RT and 33.10% by RD) compared to the RM, suggesting that polyculture practices are suitable to recover the soil quality in degraded agricultural lands. Moreover, the chemical parameters contributed more to the SQI than did the physical parameters, indicating that nutrient management is important in soil quality recovery. Overall, our results suggest that agroforestry should be preferred over monoculture in the rubber plantations for sustainable land management in tropical China. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


    Xin Zou, Xiai Zhu, Peng Zhu, Ashutosh Kumar Singh, Sissou Zakari, Bin Yang, Chunfeng Chen, Wenjie Liu. Soil quality assessment of different Hevea brasiliensis plantations in tropical China. Journal of environmental management. 2021 May 01;285:112147

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    PMID: 33607560

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