Many studies have shown that agroforestry tree prunings can supply sufficient nutrients to meet crop demand, with the exception of phosphorus. The potential of these organic inputs to supply nutrients depends on their resource quality. Various indices have been developed to predict decomposition and nitrogen release patterns of tree prunings. To date the (lignin + polyphenol):N ratio seems to be the most robust ratio for predicting mass loss and nitrogen release. However, no critical value can be given because of the different methods used to analyze polyphenols. Suggested areas of future research include development of robust indices for predicting plant litter quality, decomposition patterns of belowground litter (roots), residual effects of tree biomass additions, and effects of adding mixtures of organic materials of contrasting quality. The overall challenge is to develop ways of managing organic matter decomposition to optimize short- and long-term release of nutrients and the maintenance of soil organic matter.
Agroforestry Systems (1997) 38 (1-3) 77-97 [DOI: 10.1023/A:1005978101429]