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Makumba et al., 2007. Long-term impact of a gliricidia-maize intercropping system on carbon sequestration in southern Malawi

Makumba, W., Akinnifesi, F.K., Janssen, B., Oenema, O., 2007. Long-term impact of a gliricidia-maize intercropping system on carbon sequestration in southern Malawi. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 118, 237-243.

Tree/crop systems under agroforestry practice are capable of sequestering carbon (C) in the standing biomass and soil. Although studies have been conducted to understand soil organic C increases in some agroforestry technologies, little is known about C sequestered in simultaneous tree/crop intercropping systems. The main objective of this study was to determine the effect of agroforestry practice on C sequestration and CO2-C efflux in a gliricidia-maize intercropping system. The experiment was conducted at an experimental site located at the Makoka Agricultural Research Station, in Malawi. The studies involved two field plots, 7-year (MZ21) and 10-year (MZ12), two production systems (sole-maize and gliricidia-maize simultaneous intercropping systems). A 7-year-old grass fallow (Grass-F) was also included. Gliricidia prunings were incorporated at each time of tree pruning in the gliricidia-maize. The amount of organic C recycled varied from 0.8 to 4.8 Mg C ha(-1) in gliricidia-maize and from 0.4 to 1.0 Mg C ha(-1) in sole-maize. In sole-maize, net decreases of soil carbon of 6 Mg C ha(-1) at MZ12 and 7 Mg C ha(-1) at MZ21 in the topsoil (0-20 cm) relative to the initial soil C were observed. After 10 years of continuous application of tree prunings C was sequestered in the topsoil (0-20 cm) in gliricidia-maize was 1.6 times more than in sole-maize. A total of 123-149 Mg C ha(-1) were sequestered in the soil (0-200 cm depth), through root turnover and pruning application in the gliricidia-maize system. Carbon dioxide evolution varied from 10 to 28 kg ha(-1) day(-1) in sole-maize and 23 to 83 kg ha(-1) day(-1) in gliricidia-maize. We concluded that gliricidia-maize intercropping system could sequester more C in the soil than sole-maize.

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