Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 92, Issue 3, pp 643–653 | Cite as

Integrating Faidherbia albida trees into a sorghum field reduces striga infestation and improves mycorrhiza spore density and colonization

  • Emiru Birhane
  • Kidu Gebremeskel
  • Tewodros Taddesse
  • Mengsteab Hailemariam
  • Kiros Meles Hadgu
  • Lindsey Norgrove
  • Aklilu Negussie


Integrating agroforestry trees such as Faidherbia albida (F. albida) into cropland improves soil fertility and maintains persistence of associated beneficial microorganisms such as Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF) that protects crops from striga colonization. Striga hermonthica (striga) is an obligate root hemi-parasitic weed of maize and sorghum, which stunts growth and causes low grain yield. Data on physico-chemical properties of the soil, yield components of sorghum, striga infestation and spore abundance and colonization of AM fungi were collected from underneath and away from the F. albida canopy. The experiment was composed of four treatments and six replications in a randomized complete block design (RCBD) with 24 plots, each with 15 m2 size. Soil and root samples were also collected from under and outside of the F. albida canopy and sorghum crops. Soil organic matter, total N, available P, CEC, and total K were significantly higher under the F. albida canopy than away from it (P < 0.05). Similarly, yield of sorghum was also significantly higher under the F. albida canopy than away from it (P < 0.05). The highest striga count was recorded away from the F. albida canopy. In contrast, minimal striga infestation was found under and at the periphery of the F. albida canopy. The spore density and colonization of AMF were higher under and at the periphery of the F. albida canopy than away from it (P < 0.05). There was a significant and negative correlation between AMF fungi spore density and colonization, and striga counts at the early stage of sorghum growth. Integrating F. albida into agricultural fields with sorghum crops improves productivity and maintains AM inoculum which may control striga weed infestation.


Striga hermonthica Sorghum Grain yield Faidherbia albida Arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi Ethiopia 



The field work of this study was supported by the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA) under the Agroecology and sustainable development project in Mekelle University. The write-up was funded by the Steps towards sustainable forest management with the local communities in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia project (ETH 13/0018) funded by NORAD under the NORHED programme. We are grateful to the three anonymous referees for constructive comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emiru Birhane
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kidu Gebremeskel
    • 3
  • Tewodros Taddesse
    • 3
  • Mengsteab Hailemariam
    • 1
  • Kiros Meles Hadgu
    • 4
  • Lindsey Norgrove
    • 5
  • Aklilu Negussie
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Land Resources Management and Environmental ProtectionMekelle UniversityMekelleEthiopia
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Natural Resource ManagementNorwegian University of Life SciencesÅsNorway
  3. 3.Department of Natural Resources Economics and ManagementMekelle UniversityMekelleEthiopia
  4. 4.World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)Addis AbabaEthiopia
  5. 5.Department of Environmental Sciences (Biogeography)University of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  6. 6.WeForestOgentroostlaan 15OverijseBelgium

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