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Does pollarding trees improve the crop yield in a mature alley-cropping agroforestry system?

Abstract : In agroforestry systems, the canopy of maturing trees progressively reduces the radiation available for the crop. Tree management practices such as pollarding can be used to restore the crop light availability. We monitored durum wheat, barley and pea yields during three consecutive years in an alley-cropping agroforestry system with hybrid walnut trees in Southern France. Trees have been pruned regularly to 4 m since planting (in 1995), and a section of 50 trees was pollarded at 4 m height for the first time in 2013. We measured the yields and yields components in the two different tree management systems and in a sole crop control. The non-pollarded trees reduced significantly the incident light (around 80% of the global radiation left in average) and both wheat (68% of the control) and pea (69% of the control), but not barley mean yields. In pollards inter-row, the average incident light was 98% of the total radiation the first year and the wheat yield 89% of the control. But 3 years after pollarding, the incident light was 79% of the total radiation and the pea yield was only 67% of the control. Pollarding had a transient positive impact on crop yield; after 3 years, pollards were more competitive for light than control trees. Pollarding may also reduce the belowground trees competition, but slightly, as the crop vegetative growth occurs when the trees are leafless.
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Submitted on : Monday, September 14, 2020 - 11:45:34 AM
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Lydie Dufour, Marie Gosme, Jimmy Le Bec, Christian Dupraz. Does pollarding trees improve the crop yield in a mature alley-cropping agroforestry system?. Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science, Wiley, 2020, pp.1-10. ⟨10.1111/jac.12403⟩. ⟨hal-02937655⟩

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