Agroforestry pp 565-586 | Cite as

Cut-and-carry for Sustaining Productivity and Carbon Sequestration in Agroforestry Systems: Coffee-Leucaena Example

  • A. H. Youkhana
  • T. W. Idol


There is an urgent need to sustainably intensify agricultural production to address increasing human populations and respond to the challenges of climate change. One option for achieving this is the adoption of agroforestry systems. Agroforestry is a dynamic, ecologically based, natural resources management system that, through the integration of trees on farms and in the agricultural landscape, diversifies and sustains production for increased social, economic, and environmental benefits for land users at all levels. Cut-and-carry in agroforestry is a system in which fast-growing trees are harvested once or more per year to provide fodder for livestock or mulch and green manure for soil improvement. Using multipurpose and nitrogen-fixing trees for cut-and-carry systems can maintain or improve animal productivity and sustainability in terms of soil health and fertility. Important management factors for a cut-and-carry agroforestry system include cutting (pollarding) height, frequency, dry season management, and replacement of nutrients lost from removal of harvested material. These factors are influenced by tree species (growth and nutrient concentrations), planting density, seasonal rainfall and temperature, and soil characteristics.

In Hawaii, a novel Leucaena hybrid was used to develop and evaluate a cut-and-carry system for soil improvement of shade and open-grown coffee. Pruning every 6–12 months added approximately 25 Mg ha−1 of mulch to the soil every year, including over 150 kg ha−1 of nitrogen. Decay of this mulch results in a release of nitrogen beginning in the first 3 months and continuing for at least 1 year. For open-grown coffee, two years of mulch addition resulted in significant increases in surface (0–20 cm) soil carbon and nitrogen (10 and 1.42 Mg ha−1, respectively). The difference in soil carbon between the mulch and no-mulch treatments was also significant (9.70 Mg ha−1). Growth and yields of coffee under mulch was significantly greater than no-mulch plots fertilized with equivalent amounts of inorganic N. This clearly demonstrates the benefits of cut-and-carry for improving soil quality and support for organic farming practices. Projection of long-term effects of cut-and-carry systems on soil quality and crop and tree productivity should be possible with adaptation of existing models.


Agroforestry Carbon sequestration Century model Climate change Cut-and-carry N-fixing trees Productivity Sustainable agriculture Zero-grazing system 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human ResourcesUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA

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