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Ecological interactions, management lessons and design tools in tropical agroforestry systems

Ecological interactions, management lessons and design tools in tropical agroforestry systems

Agroforestry Systems 61/62: 221-236

During the 1980s, land- and labor-intensive simultaneous agroforestry systems (SAFS) were promoted in the tropics, based on the optimism on tree-crop niche differentiation and its potential for designing tree-crop mixtures using high tree-densities. In the 1990s it became clearer that although trees would yield crucial products and facilitate simultaneous growing of crops, they would also exert strong competitive effects on crops. In the meanwhile, a number of instruments for measuring the use of growth resources, exploratory and predictive models, and production assessment tools were developed to aid in understanding the opportunities and biophysical limits of SAFS. Following a review of the basic concepts of interspecific competition and facilitation between plants in general, this chapter synthesizes positive and negative effects of trees on crops, and discusses how these effects interact under different environmental resource conditions and how this imposes tradeoffs, biophysical limitations and management requirements in SAFS. The scope and limits of some of the research methods and tools, such as analytical and simulation models, that are available for assessing and predicting to a certain extent the productive outcome of SAFS are also discussed. The review brings out clearly the need for looking beyond yield performance in order to secure long-term management of farms and landscapes, by considering the environmental impacts and functions of SAFS. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

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Accession: 004115252

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DOI: 10.1023/b:agfo.0000029001.81701.f0

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