Arboreal Legume Litter Nutrient Contribution to a Tropical Silvopasture Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2016 by the American Society of Agronomy. Legumes contribute to pasture sustainability through symbiotic N2 fixation, which may increase primary productivity and animal performance in low-input systems. Litterfall is the main way of cycling nutrients from tree legumes. We quantified gliricidia [Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Kunth ex Walp.] and sabiá (Mimosa caesalpiniifolia Benth) litter deposition, along two 336-d cycles, in a signalgrass (Brachiaria decumbens Stapf.) pasture. Litterfall was produced throughout the year but concentrated in the dry season. Sabiá produced slightly greater (P < 0.0001) litterfall amounts in the two cycles (10,790 kg ha–1) than gliricidia (10,420 kg ha–1) but the overall average N concentration of gliricidia (21.5 g kg–1) was greater than that of sabiá (18.8 g kg–1). Nitrogen amounts cycled through the litter were greater for gliricidia in both cycles (105 and 109 kg N ha–1) than for sabiá (87 and 98 kg N ha–1). The proportions of litter N that were derived from the atmosphere by symbiotic fixation were similar (P ≥ 0.05) in both species (55%) and varied little along the two cycles. Lignin concentration, which influences decomposition, was similar in both species, averaging 238 and 214 g kg–1 in the two cycles for gliricidia and 233 and 246 g kg–1 for sabiá. Greater N concentration, lower C/N ratio and lower lignin concentration indicate that gliricidia litter may have a faster cycling rate than sabiá litter. Sabiá could be a more promising species for soil cover and protection because of its slower litter decomposition rate.

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Apolinário, V., Dubeux, J., Lira, M. A., Sampaio, E., Amorim, S. O., Miranda e Silva, N. G., & Muir, J. P.

citation count

  • 5

publication date

  • November 2016