Decomposition of subtropical fruit tree leaf litter at Nelspruit, South Africa

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 12
  • Abstract:

    There is limited information about the decomposition of leaf litter from subtropical fruit trees despite their potential for managing soil fertility. The aim of this study was to quantify the effect of quality on decomposition and nutrient-release patterns from leaf litter of avocado, litchi, and mango trees in South Africa. The litterbag technique was used for investigation. The decomposition results over 2 years indicated significant differences in mass loss among the tree species with low rapid loss for litchi (57.3 percent). The annual decomposition rate constant (k) decreased in the order mango (0.82) > avocado (0.76) > litchi (0.69). The concentrations of phosphorus, potassium, manganese, and polyphenols in all species decreased while nitrogen, sulfur, and calcium concentrations increased with time. The nutrient-release pattern of the leaf litter from the three species varied considerably due to different quality characteristics. This had an influence on litter decomposition and thus its management.