Agroforestry boosts soil health in the humid and sub-humid tropics: A meta-analysis uri icon

abstract

  • Agroforestry has been increasingly recognized as a key example of agroecological praxis contributing to the sustainable intensification of food production while providing a number of additional benefits to society. However, a quantitative synthesis of the impact of agroforestry on soil health and associated ecosystem services in the humid and sub-humid tropics is still lacking. The objective of this study was to quantify the contribution of agroforestry practices to soil-mediated ecosystem services, specifically, regulation of soil erosion, storage of soil organic carbon (SOC) and nitrogen (N), availability of soil N and phosphorus (P) to crops, and alleviation of soil acidity across the humid and sub-humid tropics. The analysis demonstrated that agroforestry can reduce soil erosion rates by 50 % compared to crop monocultures. This finding is supported by higher infiltration rates, lower runoff, higher proportion of soil macroggregates, and greater stability of soil structure under agroforestry. SOC increased by 21 %, N storage increased by 13 %, available N by 46 % and available P by 11 % while soil pH increased by 2% under agroforestry compared to crop monocultures. We conclude that agroforestry can make significant contributions to provision of soil-mediated ecosystem services in the humid and sub-humid tropics.

publication date

  • 2020
  • 2020