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Competition in tree row agroforestry systems. 3. Soil water distribution and dynamics

Livesley, S. J., Gregory, P. J. and Buresh, R. J. (2004) Competition in tree row agroforestry systems. 3. Soil water distribution and dynamics. Plant and Soil, 264 (1-2). pp. 129-139. ISSN 0032-079X

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The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that soil water content would vary spatially with distance from a tree row and that the effect would differ according to tree species. A field study was conducted on a kaolinitic Oxisol in the sub-humid highlands of western Kenya to compare soil water distribution and dynamics in a maize monoculture with that under maize (Zea mays L.) intercropped with a 3-year-old tree row of Grevillea robusta A. Cunn. Ex R. Br. (grevillea) and hedgerow of Senna spectabilis DC. (senna). Soil water content was measured at weekly intervals during one cropping season using a neutron probe. Measurements were made from 20 cm to a depth of 225 cm at distances of 75, 150, 300 and 525 cm from the tree rows. The amount of water stored was greater under the sole maize crop than the agroforestry systems, especially the grevillea-maize system. Stored soil water in the grevillea-maize system increased with increasing distance from the tree row but in the senna-maize system, it decreased between 75 and 300 cm from the hedgerow. Soil water content increased least and more slowly early in the season in the grevillea-maize system, and drying was also evident as the frequency of rain declined. Soil water content at the end of the cropping season was similar to that at the start of the season in the grevillea-maize system, but about 50 and 80 mm greater in the senna-maize and sole maize systems, respectively. The seasonal water balance showed there was 140 mm, of drainage from the sole maize system. A similar amount was lost from the agroforestry systems (about 160 mm in the grevillea-maize system and 145 mm in the senna-maize system) through drainage or tree uptake. The possible benefits of reduced soil evaporation and crop transpiration close to a tree row were not evident in the grevillea-maize system, but appeared to greatly compensate for water uptake losses in the senna-maize system. Grevillea, managed as a tree row, reduced stored soil water to a greater extent than senna, managed as a hedgerow.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Soil Research Centre
ID Code:3755
Uncontrolled Keywords:agroforestry Grevillea robusta maize Senna spectabilis soil water content water balance SURFACE MANAGEMENT TROPICAL ALFISOL GROUND INTERACTIONS HEDGEROW MOISTURE MAIZE HIGHLANDS BIOMASS ZAMBIA CROPS
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