Nutrient limitation in agriculture is a big problem in many tropical areas. Much research has focused on the optimal use of crop residues in agriculture. Recent work indicates that plant residue decomposition rates, including nutrient release rates can be increased by pre-exposure to sunlight. This has potential as a technology to manipulate nutrient release from residues to match crop demands. The possible development and use of this technology is discussed. There is some evidence that this could increase emissions of trace gases, but the increase is thought to be small. Research needs are discussed.