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Above- and below-ground biomass dynamics in a sole cropping and an alley cropping system with Gliricidia sepium in the semi-deciduous rainforest zone of West Africa



Above- and below-ground biomass dynamics in a sole cropping and an alley cropping system with Gliricidia sepium in the semi-deciduous rainforest zone of West Africa



Agroforestry Systems 31(2): 181-198



A considerable amount of data is available about above-ground biomass production and turnover in tropical agroforestry systems, but quantitative information concerning root turnover is lacking. Above- and below-ground biomass dynamics were studied during one year in an alley cropping system with Gliricidia sepium and a sole cropping system, on a Plinthic Lixisol in the semi-deciduous rainforest zone of the Cote d'Ivoire. Field crops were maize and groundnut. Live root mass was higher in agroforestry than in sole cropping during most of the study period. This was partly due to increased crop and weed root development and partly to the presence of the hedgerow roots. Fine root production was higher in the alleys and lower under the hedgerows compared to the sole cropping plots. Considering the whole plot area, root production in agroforestry and sole cropping systems was approximately similar with 1000-1100 kg ha-1 (dry matter with 45% C) in 0-50 cm depth; about 55% of this root production occurred in the top 10 cm. Potential sources of error of the calculation method are discussed on the basis of the compartment flow model. Above-ground biomass production was 11.1 Mg ha-1 in sole cropping and 13.6 Mg ha-1 in alley cropping, of which 4.3 Mg ha-1 were hedgerow prunings. The input of hedgerow root biomass into the soil was limited by the low root mass of Gliricidia as compared to other tree species, and by the decrease of live root mass of hedgerows and associated perennial weeds during the cropping season, presumably as a result of frequent shoot pruning.

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