Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 77, Issue 2, pp 127–141 | Cite as

Impact of planted fallows and a crop rotation on nitrogen mineralization and phosphorus and organic matter fractions on a Colombian volcanic-ash soil

  • T. A. Basamba
  • E. Barrios
  • B. R. Singh
  • I. M. Rao
Original Paper


Soil fertility replenishment is a critical factor that many farmers in the tropical American hillsides have to cope with to increase food crop production. The effect of three planted fallow systems (Calliandra houstoniana-CAL, Indigofera zollingeriana-IND, Tithonia diversifolia-TTH) and a crop rotation (maize/beans-ROT) on soil nitrogen mineralization, organic matter and phosphorus fractions was compared to the usual practice of allowing natural regeneration of native vegetation or natural fallow management (NAT). Studies were conducted on severely degraded Colombian volcanic-ash soils, 28 months after fallow establishment, at two on-farm experimental sites (BM1 and BM2) in the Cauca Department. Tithonia diversifolia had a significantly higher contribution to exchangeable Ca, K and Mg as well as B and Zn; the order of soil nutrient contribution was TTH > CAL > IND > NAT > ROT. On the other hand, lND had significantly higher soil NO 3 –N at both experimental farms as compared to all the other fallow system treatments. For the readily available P fraction, CAL and ROT had significantly higher H2O–Po and resin-Pi, respectively, in the 0–5 cm soil layer; whereas TTH showed significantly higher values for both H2O–Po and resin-Pi in the 5–10 cm soil layer. Significant effects were observed on the weights of the soil organic matter fractions which decreased in the order LL (Ludox light) > LM (Ludox intermediate) > LH (Ludox heavy). Indigofera zollingeriana showed greater C, N and P in the soil organic matter fractions than all the other fallow treatments, with NAT having the lowest values. It is concluded that planted fallows can restore soil fertility more rapidly than natural fallows.


Calliandra houstoniana Indigofera zollingeriana Nitrogen mineralization potential Phosphorus fractions Planted fallows Residual effect Soil organic matter fractions Tithonia diversifolia Volcanic-ash soil 



The authors duly acknowledge the partial support from the Soil, Water and Nutrient Management (SWNM) Systemwide Program of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) to the senior author to conduct part of his Ph.D. thesis work at CIAT. They also appreciate the financial support that the senior author received from Lånekassen (Norway) and Makerere University (Uganda). Our sincere thanks go to Mrs. Kolnes Anne-Grethe of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, and to Dr. Morten Svendsen of the Department of Animal Science, all at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB), and Dr. Richard Coe of ICRAF, for their advice and assistance with statistical analyses; Gonzalo Borrero, Gloria Marcela Rodríguez, Gloria Constanza Romero and Juan Guillermo Cobo, all of CIAT, for their generous technical support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. A. Basamba
    • 1
  • E. Barrios
    • 2
  • B. R. Singh
    • 1
  • I. M. Rao
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Plant and Environmental SciencesNorwegian University of Life SciencesAasNorway
  2. 2.Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility (TSBF) InstituteCentro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT)CaliColombia

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