University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Division of Agriculture


Organic matter, soil, healthy soil


Healthy soil is fundamental to a productive pasture system as it will decompose labile organic matter and promote retention of carbon to build a stable, resistant pool of organic matter. An easy, standardized approach to measure decomposition and litter stabilization that is gaining popularity in both citizen science and research studies is the use of the Tea Bag Index. The Tea Bag Index is a relatively new method evaluating the loss of organic material in two different kinds of commercial tea bags (green tea and Rooibos tea) after burial in the soil for 90 days. The objective of this experiment was to use the Tea Bag Index to determine if decomposition rate and litter stabilization were affected by inputs of excreta from ruminants fed alfalfa forage diets modified with 0%, 9%, 18%, or 27% of the tannin-containing legume sericea lespedeza, urea, or an untreated negative control in soil plots (n = 4). There was no difference in decomposition rate or litter stabilization among any treatments measured in the 8 cm of surface soil during the first spring growing season after treatment application of excreta or urea to the soil. Results of this experiment indicated that animal amendments simulating urine and manure patches did not result in detectable changes in organic matter decomposition during the first spring season after application to silt loam pasture soil growing tall fescue grass in the mid-South.