Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 43, Issue 1–3, pp 49–70 | Cite as

Nutrient cycling in an agroforestry system with runoff irrigation in Northern Kenya

  • J. LehmannEmail author
  • D. Weigl
  • K. Droppelmann
  • B. Huwe
  • W. Zech


A nutrient balance was determined for sole and alley cropped Sorghum bicolor and Acacia saligna in a runoff irrigation system in Northern Kenya. Nutrient input including precipitation and runoff, and output through harvest and leaching were measured for N, P, K, Ca and Mg using adsorption resins, tensiometry and suction cups. Various management scenarios are discussed with respect to nutrient return. Nutrient input with rainfall was generally low in comparison to nutrient uptake or leaching losses. The irrigation water, however, constituted an important nutrient input, especially for Ca and Mg. Nutrient export with the harvest was large for N and K, but can effectively be reduced by a nutrient return with mulch. Nutrient leaching losses from the topsoil (0–30 cm) were lower in the sorghum monoculture than in the tree-based systems. In the subsoil (120 cm), however, leaching was effectively reduced by the trees. In the agroforestry system, leaching losses of N under the sorghum were 53% lower than in the sorghum monoculture. This could be attributed to a higher root abundance and a higher ratio of nutrient uptake-to-leaching in the agroforestry system than in the monocultures indicating a higher nutrient efficiency. The lower leaching losses in the agroforestry system compared to the crop monoculture could not compensate for the additional nutrient export in tree biomass. A nutrient return by mulching crop residues and acacia leaves was essential for a positive nutrient balance in the agroforestry system. Combining annual and perennial crops provided a higher internal nutrient cycling than the monocultures.

Acacia saligna nutrient balance nutrient leaching resin core soil solution Sorghum bicolor 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Lehmann
    • 1
    Email author
  • D. Weigl
    • 1
  • K. Droppelmann
    • 2
  • B. Huwe
    • 3
  • W. Zech
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Soil Science and Soil GeographyUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  2. 2.Blaustein InstituteUniversity of the NegevSde BoqerIsrael
  3. 3.Soil Physics GroupUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany

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