Journal of Forestry Research

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 333–338 | Cite as

Does litterfall from native trees support rainfed agriculture? Analysis of Ficus trees in agroforestry systems of southern dry agroclimatic zone of Karnataka, southern India

  • B. Dhanya
  • Syam Viswanath
  • Seema Purushothaman
Original Paper


Trees of the genus Ficus, integral components of indigenous rainfed agro-ecosystems of the southern dry agro-climatic zone of Karnataka, southern India, have traditionally been associated with the ecological service of soil quality enhancement in addition to various direct use benefits. We assessed the soil enrichment service of Ficus benghalensis L. a common Ficus species in these agroforestry systems, by quantifying nutrient return via litter fall. Litterfall estimation and chemical analysis of litter showed that F. benghalensis trees produce 3,512 kg·ha−1 of litter annually which, on decomposition, can satisfy up to 76.70 % of N, 20.24% of P and 67.76% of K requirements of dryland crops annually per hectare. This can lead to an avoided cost of compost of US $ 36.46 ha−1·a−1 in dryland farming systems. The slow rate of decay of Ficus litter, as revealed in litter decomposition studies indicates its potential as ideal mulch for dryland soils. We discuss the complementarity between Ficus litterfall and cropping patterns in Mandya, and its implications for rainfed agricultural systems.


soil enrichment litter traps litter bags litter decomposition complementarity 


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Copyright information

© Northeast Forestry University and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Dhanya
    • 1
    • 2
  • Syam Viswanath
    • 3
  • Seema Purushothaman
    • 4
  1. 1.Tree improvement and Propagation DivisionInstitute of Wood Science and TechnologyMalleswaram, BangaloreIndia
  2. 2.College of AgricultureUniversity of Agricultural SciencesRaichurIndia
  3. 3.Tree improvement and Propagation DivisionInstitute of Wood Science and TechnologyMalleswaram, BangaloreIndia
  4. 4.Centre for Environment and DevelopmentAshoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the EnvironmentRoyal Enclave, Srirampura, Jakkur, BangaloreIndia

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