Litter from different sources influences the nutrient availability, biological and enzyme activity in the rubber growing soils in Kerala, India

Geetha Jose, Mercykutty Joseph


Plants and microorganisms are key players within the soil ecosystem and are responsible for many important soil cycling processes, such as carbon mobilization and nitrogen mineralization. Since rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) plantations are deciduous in nature and most of the plantation floors have either a leguminous cover crop of Mucuna bracteata or Pueraria phaseoloides and they contribute a lot to the soil biomass. Soil cellulase, dehydrogenase and nitrogenase activity is an important aspect to estimate soil biological properties as it acts as a biological indicator towards soil fertility. The specific influence of litter addition on the dynamics of cellulase, dehydrogenase and nitrogenase enzymes in the plantation floor when monitored continuously for three years though a field experiment indicated that cellulase enzyme values ranged from 38.35 to 999.85 μg g-1 of glucose hydrolyzed g-1 of soil 24 h-1 and dehydrogenase enzyme  level ranged from  61.70 to 293.37 μg of TPF hydrolyzed g-1 of soil  24 h-1 and the nitrogenase enzyme values ranged from 13.76 to 498.07 μ moles of ethylene produced g-1 of soil h-1. Among the three litter sources, Pueraria significantly lowered the pH and was brought to the extremely acidic range and coinciding with that reduced availability of K, Ca and Mg was recorded with Pueraria treatment. Among the soil properties, effect of pH on enzyme activity was more pronounced and cellulase exhibited positive correlation and dehydrogenase and nitrogenase exhibited negative correlation with soil pH. Mucuna litter addition was capable of enhancing the bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes populations in soil compared to Pueraria and rubber litter.


Hevea brasiliensis, Leguminous cover crops, Litter degradation, Microbial population, Mineralization, Soil enzymes

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