Plant and Soil

, Volume 137, Issue 2, pp 275–283 | Cite as

Phosphorus availability under alley cropping and mulched and unmulched sole cropping systems in Costa Rica

  • J. P. Haggar
  • G. P. Warren
  • J. W. Beer
  • D. Kass


Phosphorus availability was measured in soils under five cropping systems: alley cropping with Erythrina poeppigiana, alley cropping with Gliricidia sepium, sole cropping with Erythrina poeppigiana mulch applied, sole cropping with Gliricidia sepium mulch applied, sole cropping with no mulch. The following parameters were measured: 1) plant-available soil P assessed by P uptake of maize and bean bioassay plants; 2) phosphate desorbable by anion exchange resin; 3) adsorption of added P into isotopically exchangeable and non-exchangeable pools.

In the bioassay, P uptake of beans declined in the order: mulched sole-cropped>unmulched sole-cropped>alley-cropped soils. For maize the relative uptake was: mulched sole-cropped>unmulched sole-cropped = alley-cropped soils. These results suggest trees had not incorporated a significant quantity of P into the system after seven years and, probably, there was a decrease in available soil P due to the sequestration of P in the tree biomass. Potentially resin-desorbable P was higher in alley-cropped and mulched sole-cropped soils than in unmulched sole-cropped soils. The adsorption and desorption of added P into and from exchangeable and non-exchangeable pools did not differ between alley-cropped and unmulched sole-cropped soils.

Crop yield and crop N, P and K uptake were all higher in the alley crops than in the unmulched sole crop. The supply of P to the crop under alley cropping seems to be dependent on P cycled and released from the mulch. The P cycle in alley cropping appears to be self-sustaining at least under conditions of moderate P fertiliser input.

Key words

alley cropping beans Erythrina Gliricidia humid tropics isotopically exchangeable P maize mulching phosphorus cycle P desorption 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson J M and Ingram J S I 1989 Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility: A Handbook of Methods. CAB International, Wallingford. 171 p.Google Scholar
  2. Bhat N T and Mohapatra A R 1978 Increased mobility of phosphate in laterite soil with addition of organic matter. J. Plantation Crops 6, 57–60.Google Scholar
  3. Bornemisza E and Fassbender H W 1970 Uptake of fertiliser P from nine soils from the humid tropics. Agrochimica 14, 259–268.Google Scholar
  4. Fox R L and Kamprath E J 1970 P sorption isotherms for evaluating the P requirements for soils. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. Proc. 34, 902–907.Google Scholar
  5. Haynes R J 1984 Lime and phosphorus in the soil-plant system. Adv. Agron. 37, 249–315.Google Scholar
  6. Kass D 1987 Alley cropping of annual food crops with woody legumes in Costa Rica. In Advances in Agroforestry Research. Eds. J WBeer, H WFassbender and JHeuveldop. pp 197–208. CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica.Google Scholar
  7. Kass D L (1989) Algunos mejoras al cultivo de frijol en suelos acidos. In PROFRIJOL, Curso manejo agronomico de frijol (CIAT-CATIE-CNP-UCR-UNA). PROFRIJOL Dve. No. 89–6. pp 61–69. San Isidro del General, Costa Rica. Aug. 1989.Google Scholar
  8. Kass D, Barrantes A, Bermudez W, Campos W, Jimenez M and Sanchez J 1989 Resultados de seis años de investigación de cultivos en callejones (alley cropping) en ‘La Montanna’, Turrialba, Costa Rica. El Chasqui 19, 5–24.Google Scholar
  9. Kellman M 1977 Soil enrichment by neotropical savanna trees. J. Ecol. 67, 565–577.Google Scholar
  10. Lal R 1989 Agroforestry systems and soil surface management of a tropical alfisol. III. Changes in soil chemical properties. Agroforestry Systems 8, 113–132.Google Scholar
  11. Lee D, Han X G and Jordan C F 1990 Soil phosphorus fractions, aluminum, and water retention as affected by microbial activity in an Ultisol. Plant and Soil 121, 125–136.Google Scholar
  12. LeMare P H 1982 Exchangeable phosphorus, estimates of it from amorphous iron oxides and soil solution phosphorus, in relation to phosphorus taken up by maize. J. Soil Sci. 32, 285–299.Google Scholar
  13. LeMare P H 1982 Sorption of isotopically exchangeable and non-exchangeabel phosphate by some soils of Colombia and Brazil, and comparison with soils of southern Nigeria. J. Soil Sci. 33, 691–707.Google Scholar
  14. LeMare P H and Goedert W J 1983 Effects of liming on sorption and desorption of phosphate by some acid soils of South America. proc. of IMPHOS 3rd Int. Congr. of Phosphorus Compounds, Brussels. pp 65–77. Institut Mondial du Phosphat, Casablanca.Google Scholar
  15. LeMare P H, Pereira J and Goedert W J 1987 Effects of green manure on isotopically exchangeable phosphate in a dark red latosol in Brazil. J. Soil Sci. 38, 199–209.Google Scholar
  16. McKean S J 1989 Phosphate Desorption Characteristics of Some Tropical Soils. Ph.D. Thesis, Univ. Reading, UK.Google Scholar
  17. Murphy J and Riley J P 1962 A modified single solution method for the determination of phosphate in natural waters. Analytica Chimica Acta 27, 31–36.Google Scholar
  18. Sanchez J F 1989 Analisis de la estabilidad y dinamica de sistemas de producción de cultivos en callejones. MS Thesis, CATIE Costa Rica.Google Scholar
  19. Singh B B and Jones J P 1976 Phosphorus sorption and desorption characteristics of soil as affected by organic residues. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 40, 389–394.Google Scholar
  20. Stewart J W B and Tiessen H 1986 Dynamics of soil organic phosphorus. Biogeochemistry 2.Google Scholar
  21. Tiessen H 1989 Methods for characterising soil phosphorus. In Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility: A Handbook of Methods. Eds. J MAnderson and J S IIngram. 171 p. CAB International. Wallingford.Google Scholar
  22. Yamoah C F, Agboola A A, Wilson G F and Mulongoy K 1986 Soil properties as affected by the use of leguminous shrubs for alley cropping with maize. Agric., Ecosystems. Environ. 18, 167–177.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. P. Haggar
    • 1
  • G. P. Warren
    • 2
  • J. W. Beer
    • 3
  • D. Kass
    • 3
  1. 1.Botany SchoolUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Department of Soil ScienceUniversity of ReadingReadingUK
  3. 3.Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y EnsenanzaTurrialbaCosta Rica

Personalised recommendations