Biomass dynamics of Erythrina lanceolata as influenced by shoot-pruning intensity in Costa Rica
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Pruning of agroforestry trees, while reducing shade of the crops, usually reduces both biomass production and nitrogen fixation. Short pruning cycles are often not sustainable on the long run, because tree production declines over subsequent pruning cycles. We compared biomass and labile carbohydrate dynamics of Erythrina lanceolata Standley (Papilionaceae) shade trees under total and partial pruning regimes in a vanilla (Vanilla planifolia L.) plantation in South-western Costa Rica. The highest biomass production was measured in the unpruned control, followed by trees with 50% of the leaf pruned every three months, while total pruning every six months resulted in the lowest biomass pruduction. In the more productive treatments, a higher proportion of the production was in branches. Because, the N content of woody branches was high, they were important for nitrogen cycling. In the partial pruning treatment more nitrogen was returned to the soil from litter and woody branches than from pruned leaf. Sugar concentrations were not different between treatments and the dynamics of non-structural carbohydrates (sugar and starch) seems to depend more on plant phenology than pruning treatment. However, the starch concentrations in the total pruning were lower than in the other treatments.
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