Decomposition of a native shrub, Piliostigma reticulatum, litter in soils of semiarid Senegal

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Taylor and Francis Ltd

Developing effective management strategies that restore degraded soils requires an evaluation of the quality of the litter residues. This study relates the chemical composition of the biomass components to the decomposition rates for Piliostigma reticulatum (DC.) Hochst., a native shrub, under field and laboratory conditions. The rates were determined by mass loss. The changes in the specific surface area of the residue in relation to mass loss ranged from 15 X 10 -5 to 45 X 10 -5 which was similar to crop residues in other studies. At field conditions, P. reticulatum mass loss was higher (80% of the initial mass lost over eight months) than that under controlled conditions (50%). Such fast decomposition of residues offers the potential for farmers to stop burning these residues because high amounts of residues will not likely accumulate and cause interference with tillage and planting operations. Further studies are needed on the role of soil fauna on decomposition, mineralization of nutrients from these residues, and the potential for incorporating residues into the system without burning. --Publisher/Author's abstracts

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Soil nutrients, Semiarid zones, Soil erosion, Soil management, Soil fertility, Soil quality, Soil, Soil organic matter, Plant litter, Decomposition, Soil fauna, Crop residues, Farmers, Mineralization, Senegal, Ecosystem
Arid Land Research and Management 14(3): 205-218