10. Define decomposition and describe the processes and products of decomposition.
Decomposition is the process of breaking down of complex organic matter of detritus into inorganic substances such as carbon dioxide, water and nutrients. Dead remains of plants and animals constitute detritus. The process of decomposition involves steps like fragmentation, leaching, catabolism, humification and mineralization.
1. Fragmentation of Detritus- In this step, the detritus is broken down into small fragments by earthworms
2. Leaching- In leaching the water-soluble nutrients, seep down into the soil and become unavailable salts.
3. Catabolism- The small fragments of decomposed by decomposers like fungi and bacteria with the help of action of enzymes.
4. Humification- In this step, humus is formed. Humus is a dark coloured, amorphous solid substance that acts as a nutrient reserve.
5. Mineralization- In this step by the action of microbes, the inorganic nutrients are released from the humus.