Productivity and nutrient cycling in young Acacia senegal farming systems on Vertisol in the Blue Nile region, Sudan

Authors: Raddad, E.; Luukkanen, O.; Salih, A.; Kaarakka, V.; Elfadl, M.

Source: Agroforestry Systems, Volume 68, Number 3, November 2006 , pp. 193-207(15)

Publisher: Springer

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Acacia senegal, the gum arabic-producing tree, is the most important component of traditional dryland agroforestry systems in the␣Sudan. The spatial arrangement of trees and the type of agricultural crop used influence the interaction between trees and crops. Tree and crop growth, gum and crop yields and nutrient cycling were investigated over a period of 4 years. Trees were grown at 5 × 5 m and 10 × 10 m spacing alone or in mixtures with sorghum or sesame. No statistically significant differences in sorghum or sesame yields between the intercropping and control treatments were observed (mean values were 1.54 and 1.54 t ha−1 for sorghum grain and 0.36 and 0.42 t ha−1 for sesame seed in the mixed and mono-crop plots, respectively). At an early stage of agroforestry system management, A. senegal had no detrimental effect on crop yield; however, the pattern of resource capture by trees and crops may change as the system matures. A significant positive relationship existed between the second gum picking and the total gum yield. The second gum picking seems to be a decisive factor in gum production and could be used as an indicator for the prediction of the total gum yield. Soil organic carbon, N, P and K contents were not increased by agroforestry as compared to the initial levels. Soil OC was not increased by agroforestry as compared to sole cropping. There was no evidence that P increased in the topsoil as the agroforestry plantations aged. At a stocking density of 400 trees ha−1 (5 × 5 m spacing), A. senegal accumulated in its biomass a total of 18.0, 1.21, 7.8 and 972 kg ha−1 of N, P, K and OC, respectively. Agroforestry contributed ca. 217 and 1500 kg ha−1 of K and OC, respectively, to the top 25-cm of soil during the first four years of intercropping.

Keywords: Clay plain; Crop yield; Dryland; Gum arabic; Sesamum indicum; Sorghum bicolor

Document Type: Research Article


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Publication date: November 1, 2006

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