Soil organic matter, microbial biomass and enzyme activities in a tropical agroforestry system
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- Chander, K., Goyal, S., Nandal, D. et al. Biol Fertil Soils (1998) 27: 168. doi:10.1007/s003740050416
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The effects of growing trees in combination with field crops on soil organic matter, microbial biomass C, basal respiration and dehydrogenase and alkaline phosphatase activities were studied in soils under a 12-year-old Dalbergia sissoo (a N2-fixing tree) plantation intercropped with a wheat (Triticum aestivum) – cowpea (Vigna sinensis) cropping sequence. The inputs of organic matter through D. sissoo leaf litter increased and crop roots decreased with the increase in tree density. Higher organic C and total N, microbial biomass C, basal soil respiration and activities of dehydrogenase and alkaline phosphatase were observed in treatments with tree-crop combination than in the treatment without trees. Soil organic matter, microbial biomass C and soil enzyme activities increased with the decrease in the spacing of the D. sissoo plantation. The results indicate that adoption of the agroforestry practices led to an improved organic matter status of the soil, which is also reflected in the increased nutrient pool and microbial activities necessary for long-term productivity of the soil. However, tree spacing should be properly maintained to minimize the effects of shading on the intercrops.