Crop and tree response to planting patterns in alley cropping systems Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/d217qr83j

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  • Growing trees as a green manure crop together with an annual food crop is a new technology for farmers in Oregon. To promote farmer participation and to acquire a broad knowledge of the processes involved in species interactions, three feasible alley cropping and two sweet corn monocrop planting patterns were studied in a replicated factorial experiment. Each alley cropping pattern was planted twice, with either red alder (Alnus rubra Bong) or black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.). The annual crop component used was sweet corn (Zea mays L.). Sweet com population was the same in all plant arrangements, except one alley cropping pattern. The monocrop control, planted at 63.5 cm row spacing, yielded highest while the lowest com yield was produced in the alley cropping system that involved alternate com and black locust rows. The highest com yield produced among alley cropping patterns surpassed the control planted at 89 cm row spacing. Com yield in planting patterns was dependent on the relative space occupied by each species. A high ratio of tree occupation was negatively correlated with com yield. Greatest pruning biomass was produced in alley cropping systems with highest tree population and greatest percentage of tree space occupation. Compared to black locust, biomass produced by red alder trees was minimal. Within alley cropping patterns of the same tree species, lower crop yield coincided with highest pruning biomass implicating trade-offs between potential soil improving effects and crop yield. Tree biomass was more strongly affected by changes in relative space occupation than com yield. Yield of individual com rows within treatments varied considerably. In alley cropping systems where several com rows were separated by double rows of trees, com rows adjacent to trees yielded significantly more than those neighboring com rows on either side. Com row position had no significant effect in monocrop or patterns where tree and com alternated. Mean yield of individual com plants decreased when both neighboring com rows and neighboring tree row were in close proximity. The approach of using a few planting patterns as experimental treatments did not permit to precisely model the relationships between single proximity factors and yield components. However, the approach permitted identification of factors contributing the most to changes in tree and crop yield and demonstrated basic trends.
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