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Soil quality characteristics of traditional agroforestry systems in Mouzaki area, central Greece

Abstract

Agroforestry systems (AFS) are characterized by growing trees and crops on the same area, aiming at sustainable production and better natural resources management, whilst potentially contributing to climate change mitigation. One of the most important benefits related to the productivity of AFS is the maintenance or improvement of soil quality. In the present study, qualitative characteristics of soils were evaluated in eight traditional smallholder AFS in the Municipality of Mouzaki, central Greece. The AFS were both silvoarable and silvopastoral systems and they were located either in lowland or semi-mountainous areas. Within the research areas, the effect of the trees on soil parameters was investigated. Soil samples were collected at two depths (0–30 and 30–60 cm) and at three distances from the tree base, corresponding to half, twice, triple or quadruple the tree canopy width. Soil organic matter (OM), total N, available P, exchangeable K, electrical conductivity (ECe), cation exchange capacity, pH and bulk density were determined. The effects of altitude and land use (agroforestry practice) on the soil quality parameters were also evaluated. Soil quality characteristics varied among the eight AFS. The distance from the tree significantly affected only ECe (p = 0.042), which decreased from a mean value of 0.31 dS/m to 0.25 dS/m, as the distance from the tree increased. Silvoarable systems presented significantly higher pH, ECe, available P (p < 0.001) and total N (p = 0.012) content than silvopastoral. Increased altitude resulted in significantly higher levels of OM and total N within the top 30 cm depths (p < 0.001); mean soil OM was 1.7% and total N 0.11% in the AFS in the lowland, whereas in the semi-mountainous areas 2.4% and 0.16%, respectively. The results of the research provided evidence of soil carbon sequestration, thus indicating the potential of AFS to mitigate climate change.

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Availability of data and material

The datasets generated during and analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Code availability

Not applicable.

Abbreviations

AFS:

Agroforestry systems

BD:

Bulk density

C:

Clay

CEC:

Cation exchange capacity

CL:

Clay Loam

CW:

Canopy width

ECe :

Electrical conductivity of the saturation paste extract

K:

Potassium

N:

Nitrogen

OM:

Organic matter

P:

Phosphorus

S:

Sand

SA:

Silvoarable

SCL:

Sandy Clay Loam

SD:

Standard deviation

Si:

Silt

SOC:

Soil organic carbon

SP:

Silvopastoral

TKN:

Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen

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Acknowledgements

The present study is part of the project entitled “Perspective of Agroforestry in Thessaly region: A research on social, environmental and economic aspects to enhance farmer participation”. The project is funded by the General Secretariat for Research and Innovation (GSRI) and the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (HFRI).

Funding

The present study is part of the project entitled “Perspective of Agroforestry in Thessaly region: A research on social, environmental and economic aspects to enhance farmer participation”. The project is funded by the General Secretariat for Research and Innovation (GSRI) and the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (HFRI).

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Kokkora, M.I., Vrahnakis, M. & Kleftoyanni, V. Soil quality characteristics of traditional agroforestry systems in Mouzaki area, central Greece. Agroforest Syst 96, 857–871 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-022-00746-7

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Keywords

  • Altitude
  • Land use
  • Mediterranean climate
  • Silvoarable
  • Silvopasture
  • Soil fertility