Short Term Leguminous Trees-Tillage Interactions and Their Effect on Soil-Water Content in a Semi-Arid Agroforestry Parkland


Agricultural activities that encourage slashing, burning and ploughing greatly affect the soil structure and soil organic matter on which soil water retention depends. In this study, we hypothesized that inclusion of rotational leguminous tree species improves soil water retention in a semi-arid conservation agriculture system. In a study done in Kibwezi, semi-arid eastern Kenya, results showed that the amount of water retained in the different soil strata from plots with different tree species and tillage practices was highly significant (P = 0.032). Plots with planting basins and Gliricidia sepium and Faidherbia albida tree species retained more water in both the upper and lower strata. Plots with G. sepium tree species under planting basins and zero tillage under F. albida had significantly higher soil organic carbon levels than plots that were managed under ridges and ploughing (P = 0.002). On the other hand, bulk density in plots with planting basins and zero tillage and ridges ranged between 1.35 g/cm3 and 1.53 g/cm3. Conventional tillage plots had bulk density values of 1.65 g/cm3 and 1.72 g/cm3 in the upper and lower strata respectively. The time-dependent nature of rotational leguminous tree species on soil organic matter and soil water retention in the semi-arid conservation agriculture system highlights the importance of considering these species for improving organic carbon and water retention for improved crop production.

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Kalinda, C. , Mburu, D. , Ngamau, K. , Chisala, L. , Zulu, D. and Kihoro, J. (2015) Short Term Leguminous Trees-Tillage Interactions and Their Effect on Soil-Water Content in a Semi-Arid Agroforestry Parkland. Open Journal of Forestry, 5, 668-677. doi: 10.4236/ojf.2015.57059.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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