Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 241–252 | Cite as

Effect of perennial mulches on moisture conservation and soil-building properties through agroforestry

  • V. P. S. Tomar
  • P. Narain
  • K. S. Dadhwal


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 words

perennial mulches agroforestry moisture conservation residual effect soil building properties decomposition rate 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Bhardwaj KKR and Gaur AC (1985) Availability of wastes for use in agriculture. In: Bhardwaj KKR and Gaur AC, eds, Recycling of Organic Wastes, Ch 2. India Printers, DelhiGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Fisher RA (1950) Statistical methods for research workers. Oliver & Byod, Edinburgh, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gupta JP (1978) Evaporation from sandy soils under mulches. Ann Arid Zone 17(3): 287–290Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gupta JP (1980) Effect of mulches on moisture and thermal regimes of soil and yield of pearlmillet. Ann Arid Zone 19 (1–2): 132–138Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Gupta JP (1983) Water conservation for crop production. 3.5. Mulches. In: Gupta JP, ed, Soil and Moisture Conservation for Increasing Crop Production in Arid Lands, 22 pp Monograph No. 20, ed, CAZRI, Jodhpur (Raj)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Gupta JP and Gupta GN (1982) Effect of mulches on hydro-thermal environment of soil and crop production in arid zone of western Rajasthan. Abstract. 12th International Congress of Soil Science., New Delhi, India, pp 9–10Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Jackson ML (1967) Soil Chemical Analysis. Printice Hall of India Pvt Ltd, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Moody JE, Jones JN and Lillard JH (1963) Influence of straw mulch on soil moisture, soil temperature and growth of corn. Proc Am Soc Soil Sci 27(6): 700–703Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Piper CS (1966) Soil and Plant Analysis. Hans Publishers, BombayGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Prihar SS, Singh NT and Sandhu BS (1977) Response of crops to soil temperature changes induced by mulching and irrigation. In: Lal R and Green Land DJ, eds, Soil Physical Properties and Crop Production in the Tropics, pp 305–315, John Wiley Sons, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Van Wijk WR, Larson WI and Burrows WC (1959) Soil temperature and early growth of corn for mulched and unmulched soils. Proc Am Soc Scil Sci 23: 428–431Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. P. S. Tomar
    • 1
  • P. Narain
    • 1
  • K. S. Dadhwal
    • 1
  1. 1.Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training InstituteDehra DunIndia

Personalised recommendations