Saturday, 15 July 2006

The Role of Scattered Agroforestry Trees in Soil Fertility Management in Ethiopia: Synopsis of Research Results on Indigenous Tree Species.

Abebe Yadessa1, Tadesse Woldemariam2, Mohammed Adilo2, and Shimels Tadesse2. (1) Center for Development Research (ZEF), Univ of Bonn, Walter-Flex.Str. 3, D-53113, Bonn, Germany, (2) Ethiopian Agricultural Research Organization, Forestry Research Center, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia

Scattered agroforestry trees are the common features of the farming system across the different rural landscapes in Ethiopia. Smallholder farmers often retain scattered individual trees in arable fields, coffee farms, grazing lands, homesteads, or on field margins for various reasons. The objective is to present research findings made so far on scattered trees on farm in the country, analyze the existing research gaps and indicate the future research directions in this area. Research results on different tree s such as Cordia africana (on acidic Nitosols in the west), Olea europea and Acacia abyssinica (on chromic Cambisols in the central), Milletia ferrugenia (on Regosols in the south), Croton macrostachyus (on Nitosols in the northwest), Acacia albida (on Vertisols in central highlands), Acacia tortilis (in the rift valley) and Acacia nilotica (in the Middle Awash) showed that scattered agroforestry trees play an important role in soil fertility enrichment. They significantly improved the soil properties of different soil types under their canopy as compared to the adjacent open. The soil patches found under tree canopies are important local nutrient reserves that influence the rural landscape. These trees have the potential to provide nutrients to support crop and livestock production for smallholder farmers. Cash income generated through merchantable timber production and other products from important trees on farm such as Cordia, Olea, Podo, Prunus, etc. is also considerable. Moreover, scattered trees can play an important role in conserving biodiversity within agricultural systems by providing habitats and resources that are otherwise absent or scarce in agricultural landscape.

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