Dietary condensed tannins in bovine faeces and effects on soil microbial dynamics: are there environmental benefits for cattle production systems? Academic Article uri icon


  • Context Plant bioactive compounds such as condensed tannins (CT) are seen as an alternative to rumen chemical modulators to mitigate rumen methanogenesis in livestock; however, the presence of CT in ruminant faeces also produces a series of changes in soil microbiomes. Little is known about these effects on soil nutrient dynamics. Therefore, whether CT affect the decomposition process of faecal organic matter, delaying it and consequently increasing soil carbon and nitrogen (N) sequestration, merits study. Aims Our study investigated the effects of a diet rich in CT on bovine faecal composition and on subsequent dynamics of a soil microbial population. Methods Faeces were analysed from cattle fed the following diets: control (no CT), 1.25% CT, 2.5% CT. In a greenhouse pot experiment over a period of 60 days, faeces from the three dietary treatments were applied to soil and the soil microbial populations were measured against a control with no faeces applied. Key results The presence of CT increased the excretion of faecal N and of neutral and acid detergent fibres and lignin, and the higher rate of CT reduced the rate of soil organic matter decomposition. Treatments with dietary CT resulted in greater total numbers of bacteria in the soil than in the no-faeces control and stimulated numbers of Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria (-Proteobacteria) and Firmicutes. Conclusions The study showed that CT alter N recycling and other nutrient inputs in a soilanimal ecosystem by increasing faecal N inputs, delaying organic matter breakdown, and changing soil microbial dynamics. Implications The presence of CT in ruminant diets can be beneficial to the soil environment. Sustainable management practices should be encouraged by providing ruminants with feed including high-CT legumes in silvopastoral systems.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Fagundes, G. M., Benetel, G., Carriero, M. M., Sousa, R., Santos, K. C., Muir, J. P., & Bueno, I.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Fagundes, Gisele M||Benetel, Gabriela||Carriero, Mateus M||Sousa, Ricardo LM||Santos, Kelly C||Muir, James P||Bueno, Ives CS

publication date

  • January 2021