Should fertilizer recommendations be adapted to parkland agroforestry systems? Case studies from Ethiopia and Rwanda uri icon

abstract

  • Aims This study aimed to disentangle tree-crop-fertilizer interactions in agroforestry systems, which has been suggested as an entry point for sustainable intensification of smallholder farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Although tree-crop systems generate multiple economic and ecological benefits, tree-crop competition commonly occurs. We hypothesized that mineral fertilizers affect facilitative and competitive interactions differently in tree-crop systems. Methods Tree-crop-fertilizer interactions were explored for wheat growing underFaidherbia albida,and maize growing underAcacia tortilisandGrevillea robustathrough omission trials of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in open fields and fields under tree canopy, using a split plot design. The experiments were conducted in Ethiopia and Rwanda, replicated four times, and over two seasons. Results Our results demonstrated that the presence ofF. albida significantlyimproved N and P use efficiencies, leading to significantly higher (P < 0.001) grain yields in wheat. This tree species contributed around 64 kg ha(-1) yr.(-1)of mineral N. The P use efficiency of wheat underF. albidawas double that of open field wheat. By contrast,G. robustaandA. tortilistrees lowered nutrient use efficiencies in maize, leading to significantly less maize grain yields compared with open fields receiving the same fertilization. Probabilities of critically low crop yields and crop failure were significantly greater for maize growing under the canopy of these species. Conclusions Our results showed that recommended fertilizer rates led to facilitative interaction only withF. albida,highlighting that fertilizer recommendations need to be adapted to agroforestry systems.

publication date

  • 2020
  • 2020