Canopy management possibilities for arboreal Leucaena in mixed sorghum and livestock small farm production systems in semi-arid India
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A major problem for small farmers in the semi-arid tropics is the chronic shortage of fodder for draft animals. Leucaena leucocephala has improved productivity in many places in India and in various cropping systems, usually as either a pure crop or in a hedgerow alley-cropping configuration. Mixed cropping with arboreal forms is seldom seen. For off-season fodder production, hedgerows have the disadvantage of being open to unmanaged browsing when unfenced (as is usual). Arboreal forms are generally far less vulnerable.
In this paper, the components of production of sorghum and arboreal Leucaena are measured under different intensities of canopy lopping. The most productive management system of those examined was pollarding of the Leucaena at the time of under-sowing with sorghum. In a year with less than 50% of average seasonal rainfall, this system gave a yield of 4.6 tonnes/ha/yr fresh wt fodder and 3.8 tonnes/ha/yr dry wt. of fuel harvests, while increasing the standing crop of wood by 1.8 t/ha/yr and retaining a yield of sorghum grain equivalent to 46% of pure sorghum cropping; the LER of this system was 1.35.
Cash values of the alternative management systems were estimated, including the discounted Net Present Value of the standing crop of timber. Maximum value was attained with unlopped pure crop Leucaena followed by pollarded Leucaena with sorghum; pure crop sorghum achieved a lower value.
These results demonstrate both the high productivity of Leucaena/sorghum based systems, and the stability of production even in poor rainfall conditions. Pollarding transferred the high future value of Leucaena timber to the present value of sorghum grain and fuelwood.
Key wordsLeucaena leucocephala Sorghum bicolor semi-arid India agroforestry fodder fuelwood sorghum pollarding micro-climate biomass
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