Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 259–274 | Cite as

Above and below ground interactions in alley-cropping in semi-arid India

  • R. P. Singh
  • N. Saharan
  • C. K. Ong


The influence of micro-environment on the growth and yield of cowpea, castor and sorghum was investigated in a 10 m wide alley cropping system. The alleys were formed by Leucaena hedgerows pruned for both fodder and pole production. Below-ground interaction was examined by installing a polythene root barrier between the root systems of crops and Leucaena and by measurements of both soil moisture and root growth. Microclimate measurements included light, wind speed, humidity and temperature.

Growth and yield of crops declined from 150 to 30% of sole crop as the distance from the hedgerows decreased from 5 to 0.3 m. The presence of the root barrier had a marked effect on crop growth and completely eliminated any reduction in crop yield, although shading by the hedgerows reached 30 to 85% of full sunlight. There was some modification of the microclimate in the alleys but the changes were not great enough to significantly influence crop yield. The substantial increase in crop yield in the middle of the alleys was explained by the residual effect of a previous hedgerow, removed 12 months previously, on probably the infiltration rate and nutrient status of the soil. These results clearly showed that alley cropping in the semi-arid tropics induces competition for moisture between the trees and crops which may severely reduce crop yield.


Wind Speed Soil Moisture Root Growth Crop Yield Nutrient Status 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. P. Singh
    • 1
  • N. Saharan
    • 1
  • C. K. Ong
    • 2
  1. 1.Central Research Institute for Dryland AgricultureHyderabadIndia
  2. 2.International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid TropicsPatancheru, A.P.India

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