Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 71, Issue 2, pp 99–108 | Cite as

Practical methods for non-destructive measurement of tree leaf area

  • Céline Leroy
  • Laurent Saint-André
  • Daniel AuclairEmail author


In an agroforestry context, the knowledge of leaf area is an important parameter to take into consideration because tree foliage shades the intercrop. Single leaf measurement (for example leaf length and width) is a widely used method to estimate leaf area in a rapid non-destructive way. In this study, the objectives were to estimate the leaf area of different leaf sizes and shapes for Acacia mangium Willd. (Mimosaceae), Tectona grandis L. (Verbenaceae), Hevea brasiliensis Muell.-Arg. (Euphorbiaceae), and Swietenia macrophylla King. (Meliaceae) Indonesian agroforestry trees. In order to characterise leaf area in field conditions a digital photograph method was used. Leaf length was measured in order to build relationships between leaf length versus actual leaf area. Additional measurements obtained from the digital pictures such as lamina width, number of leaflets, leaflet length and width were recorded in order to test the benefit regarding leaf area estimation based only on the leaf length model. The combination of these different linear leaf measurements led to various degrees of precision of leaf area estimation. The different models can then be chosen according to a compromise between the accuracy of leaf area estimation and the time allocated to field measurements.


Leaf area estimation Models Leaf length Leaf width Digital pictures Leaflet 



The authors thank Novi Sari Wahyuni for her help in fieldwork. This research was carried out as part of the SAFODS (Smallholder AgroForestry Options for Degraded Soils) collaborative research project, partly funded by the EU: contract number ICA4-CT-2001-10092. AMAP (Botany and Computational Plant Architecture) is a joint research unit which associates CIRAD (UMR51), CNRS (UMR5120), INRA (UMR931), IRD (R123), and Montpellier 2 University (UM27); The support is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Céline Leroy
    • 1
    • 2
  • Laurent Saint-André
    • 3
  • Daniel Auclair
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.INRA, UMR AMAP (botAnique et bioinforMatique de l’Architecture des Plantes), TA A-51/PS2, Boulevard de la LirondeMontpellier cedex 5France
  2. 2.CUFR Jean-François ChampollionAlbiFrance
  3. 3.CIRAD, UPR Fonctionnement et pilotage des écosystèmes de plantationsMontpellier cedex 5France

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