Leaf mould in process of formation

Leaf mould in process of formation

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Credit: DR JEREMY BURGESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: A sample of leaf mould in the early stages of degradation. Leaf mould is made by collecting fallen leaves and storing them in a damp environment such as a heap, or within plastic bags. Over a period of months, fungi, bacteria and small animals including worms act to break down the cellular structure of the leaves, eventually reducing them to a friable compost with a high humus content but low fertility for plant growth.The picture shows a sample taken from the top of a bagful of leaves, 5 months after it was stacked. The long edge of the picture represents 8cm. The leaves are mostly from beech, Fagus sylvaticus, and remain recognisable at the surface of the leaf mould. Behind them, the process of decay is advanced. The frontmost leaves show on their surface the frass of various animals that contribute to the formation of the final product.

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Keywords: bacteria, beech, biological, biology, botanical, botany, fagus sylvaticus, fungi, humus, leaf, leaf decay, leaf mould, soil animals, soil improver

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