Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 66–71 | Cite as

Trees on farms and their contribution to soil fertility parameters in Badessa, eastern Ethiopia

  • Jiregna GindabaEmail author
  • Andrey Rozanov
  • Legesse Negash
Original Paper


Surface (0–15 cm) and subsurface (30–45 cm) soil samples from under canopy, edge of canopy and away from canopy of isolated Cordia africana Lam. and Croton macrostachyus Del. trees and their leaves were examined to investigate leaf nutrient content, root biomass and the contribution of trees on farms to soil fertility parameters in Badessa area, eastern Ethiopia. Leaves of C. macrostachyus had 20% higher P and 25% lower K contents than those of C. africana. The studied species had comparable leaf N content. Both species produced shallow lateral roots that extended beyond the canopy zone. Typically, higher fine root biomass was observed in the surface soils than the subsurface soils. Both species did not affect soil organic C, pH and cation exchange capacity. Surface and subsurface soils under tree canopies had 22–26 and 12–17% higher N, respectively, than the corresponding soils away from tree canopies. Surface soil available P under tree canopies was 34–50% higher than the corresponding soil away from canopies. Available P content of subsurface soil was improved only under C. africana canopy. The available P of surface soil under C. macrostachyus canopy was more than double that for C. africana. Trees of both species increased underneath surface and subsurface exchangeable K by 18–46% compared with the corresponding controls. In conclusion, C. macrostachyus and C. africana trees on farms keep soil nutrient high via protection against leaching, translocation of nutrients from deeper to the surface layer and accumulation of litter, which create a temporary nutrient pool in the surface soils under their canopies.


Cordia africana Croton macrostachyus Litter Nutrients Root density 



This study was supported by the Agricultural Research and Training Project (ARTP) of the Alemaya University (Ethiopia). We are grateful to the staff of the Kuni District Agriculture and Natural Resources Department for their assistance during the study and all the farmers in Kara and Oda Muda peasant associations who allowed the study to be carried out on their farms.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiregna Gindaba
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Andrey Rozanov
    • 3
  • Legesse Negash
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Plant SciencesAlemaya UniversityDire DawaEthiopia
  2. 2.Department of Horticultural SciencesUniversity of StellenboschMatielandSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of Soil ScienceUniversity of StellenboschMatielandSouth Africa
  4. 4.Department of BiologyAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia

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