Effect of perennial mulches on moisture conservation and soil-building properties through agroforestry
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The effect of perennial mulches on moisture status, soil characteristics and on crop yields (maize-wheat rotation) was evaluated from 1986 through 1989 in a silty loam acidic soil (pH 5.6, PWP 11.4 & FC 25.6%) at the Research Farm of the Central Soil & Water Conservation Research & Training Institute, Dahra Dun. Mulch materials, comprised of leaves of Leucaena leucocephala, Eucalyptus hybrid, Shorea robusta, Broussonatia paprifera or Puerarua hirsuta (chopped) @ 4 t/ha were applied just after sowing of wheat and the residual effect of applied mulch was seen in kharif maize each year.
The distribution of profile moisture revealed that at the time of sowing of wheat the soil water content did not differ with depth (0–90 cm). With the advancement of time, the magnitude of moisture distribution changed. At various crop growth stages the highest amount of water was found in the plots mulched with S. robusta followed by E. hybrid. All the mulch materials, except B. paprifera, lowered the soil pH, the maximum effect was noted with E. hybrid (pH reduced from 5.6 to 5.0). After three years, N and K content of soil were found to be greatest with the application of L. leucocephala whereas the highest P content was observed in B. paprifera mulched plots.
The highest wheat grain yield (2.46 t/ha) was recorded with L. leucocephala and minimum under control (2.11 t/ha) which represents a gain of 11.7 per cent. Maximum maize grain yield (0.73 t/ha) was found in S. robusta mulched plots followed by L. leucocephala (0.63 t/ha) and the minimum in the control (0.51 t/ha).
Key wordsperennial mulches agroforestry moisture conservation residual effect soil building properties decomposition rate
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