Seasonal dynamics in the concentrations of macronutrients and organic constituents in green and senesced leaves of three agroforestry species in southern Ethiopia
Foliar inputs from indigenous agroforestry trees and shrubs could provide sufficient nutrients and organic matter to sustain crop growth. However, concentrations of foliar nutrients and organic constituents show considerable seasonal, inter- and/or intra-species variations. To determine this variability, green and senesced leaves were sampled during dry and wet seasons from Cordia africana, Albizia gummifera and Milletia ferruginea trees at Wondo Genet, southern Ethiopia. Cordia is a deciduous, non-leguminous tree, while Albizia and Milletia are semi-deciduous and leguminous trees. Leaves were analyzed for concentrations of ash, N, P, K, cellulose, lignin, soluble polyphenols, and condensed tannins. Results from statistical analyses showed significant seasonal vari- ations (P < 0.001) in concentrations of all leaf constituents, except for P and cellulose. Foliar concentrations of ash, N, soluble polyphenols, and condensed tannins were higher during the wet season while those of K and lignin were higher during the dry season. Green leaves had significantly higher (P < 0.001) N and P concentrations than senesced leaves, while senesced leaves had higher concentrations of K, cellulose, soluble polyphenols, and condensed tannins. The ‘Relative Percentage Changes’ in concentration of N and P in senesced leaves, i.e., their enrichment or depletion with such nutrients relative to those in green leaves, were significantly higher (P < 0.001) for Cordia than Albizia and Milletia.
On the other hand, there was no consistent pattern in the enrichment or depletion of senesced leaves with organic constituents, but these leaves were in most cases more enriched with organic constituents than green leaves. Over all, the percentage depletion or enrichment ranged from about 8% to 38% for N; 24% to 63% for P; −141% to 48% for K; −44% to 15% for cellulose; −44% to 51% for lignin; −203% to −61% for soluble polyphenols; and −290% to 11% for condensed tannins. It was concluded that variations in species and life-form (legume versus non-legume), season, and developmental stage of leaves could affect the quality of organic material from agroforestry species, which has important implications for management of organic residues in tropical agricultural systems.
Teklay, T. (2004). Seasonal dynamics in the concentrations of macronutrients and organic constituents in green and senesced leaves of three agroforestry species in southern Ethiopia. Plant and Soil. 267: 297-307.