Nutrient stocks of short-term fallows on high base status soils in the humid tropics of Papua New Guinea

A.E. Hartemink

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14 Citations (Scopus)


In order to understand nutrient dynamics in tropical farming systems with fallows, it is necessary to assess changes in nutrient stocks in plants, litter and soils. Nutrient stocks (soil, above ground biomass, litter) were assessed of one-year old fallows with Piper aduncum, Gliricidia sepium and Imperata cylindrica in the humid lowlands of Papua New Guinea. The experiment was conducted on a high base status soil (Typic Eutropepts), and in Papua New Guinea such soils are intensively used for agriculture. Soil samples were taken prior to fallow establisment and after one year when the fallows were slashed and above ground biomass and nutrients measured. The above ground and litter biomass of piper was 13.7 Mg dry matter ha-1, compared to 23.3 Mg ha-1 of gliricidia and 14.9 Mg ha-1 of imperata. Gliricidia produced almost 7 Mg ha-1 wood. Total above ground biomass returned to the soil when the fallows were slashed was the same for piper and gliricidia (8 Mg ha-1). Gliricidia accumulated the largest amounts of all major nutrients except for K, which was highest in the above ground piper biomass. Imperata biomass contained the lowest amount of nutrients. The largest stocks of C, N, Ca and Mg were found in the soil, whereas the majority of P was found in the above ground biomass and litter. Almost half of the total K stock of piper and gliricidia was in the biomass. During the fallow period, soil organic C significantly increased under gliricidia fallow whereas no net changes occurred in piper and imperata fallows. The study has shown large differences in biomass and nutrient stocks between the two woody fallows (piper, gliricidia) and between the woody fallows and the non-woody fallow (imperata). Short-term woody fallows are to be preferred above grass (imperata) fallows in the humid lowlands of Papua New Guinea because of higher nutrient stocks
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-43
JournalAgroforestry Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • piper-aduncum
  • imperata-cylindrica
  • gliricidia-sepium
  • lowlands
  • biomass
  • accumulation
  • dynamics
  • science

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