Role of Litter Turnover in Soil Quality in Tropical Degraded Lands of ColombiaReport as inadecuate

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The Scientific World Journal - Volume 2014 2014, Article ID 693981, 11 pages -

Review ArticleUniversidad Nacional de Colombia, Calle 59 A No. 63-20, Oficina 14-330, 050034 Medellín, Colombia

Received 31 August 2013; Accepted 30 December 2013; Published 13 February 2014

Academic Editors: X. He, C. Le Bayon, N. Moritsuka, and L. E. Parent

Copyright © 2014 Juan D. León and Nelson W. Osorio. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Land degradation is the result of soil mismanagement that reduces soil productivity and environmental services. An alternative to improve degraded soils through reactivation of biogeochemical nutrient cycles via litter production and decomposition is the establishment of active restoration models using new forestry plantations, agroforestry, and silvopastoral systems. On the other hand, passive models of restoration consist of promoting natural successional processes with native plants. The objective in this review is to discuss the role of litter production and decomposition as a key strategy to reactivate biogeochemical nutrient cycles and thus improve soil quality in degraded land of the tropics. For this purpose the results of different projects of land restoration in Colombia are presented based on the dynamics of litter production, nutrient content, and decomposition. The results indicate that in only 6–13 years it is possible to detect soil properties improvements due to litter fall and decomposition. Despite that, low soil nutrient availability, particularly of N and P, seems to be major constraint to reclamation of these fragile ecosystems.

Author: Juan D. León and Nelson W. Osorio



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