Root distribution of Senna siamea grown on a series of derived-savanna-zone soils in Togo, West Africa uri icon


  • Although crucial for assessing the functioning of alley cropping systems, quantitative information related to the hedgerow tree root distribution remains scarce. Soil mapping and destructive soil sampling was used to assess the impact of soil profile features on selected root characteristics of Senna siamea hedgerows, growing in alley cropping systems in three sites (Glidji, Amoutchou, and Sarakawa) representative for the derived savanna of Togo, West Africa. While the soil profiles in Glidji and Sarakawa contained a clay accumulation horizon, the Amoutchou profile was sandy up to 1 m. The number of small roots (diameter < 2 mm), quantified on a soil profile wall, decreased with depth in all sites. For most soil depths, the abundance of small roots tended to be higher near the tree base, e.g., ranging from 5.3 dmâ??2 in Amoutchou to 21.4 dmâ??2 in Glidji for the 0â??20 cm layer, than in the middle of the alley, e.g., ranging from 3.1 dmâ??2 in Amoutchou to 13.8 dmâ??2 in Glidji for the 0â??20 cm layer. Root length density (RLD) of the 0â??10 cm and 10â??20 cm layers was significantly higher in Glidji than in Amoutchou (P < 0.05) and in Sarakawa (P = 0.08). Differences in RLD between sites were not significant for layers below 30 cm. For each layer, root weight densities (RWD) were similar in all sites, e.g., ranging from 0.44 mg cmâ??3 in Amoutchou to 0.64 mg cmâ??3 in Glidji in the 0â??10 cm layer, indicating that the roots in the Glidji topsoil had a smaller overall diameter than in Amoutchou. In Amoutchou, the relative RLD was lower than in Glidji or Sarakawa for the top 40 cm of soil, while the inverse was observed for the layers between 50 and 100 cm deep and this was related to the sandy soil profile in Amoutchou. Another consequence of the sandy profile was the larger tap root diameter below 50 cm in Amoutchou compared to Sarakawa. For all sites, significant (P < 0.001) linear regressions were observedbetween RLD's, RWD's, and the abundance of small roots, although the variation explained by the regression equations was highest for the relationship between RLD and RWD. The potential of the hedgerows to recover nutrients leached beyond the reach of food crops or the safety-net efficiency was evaluated for the tree sites

publication date

  • 2002
  • 2002

geographic focus