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Allometric equations for estimating on-farm fuel production of Gliricidia sepium (Gliricidia) shrubs and Cajanus cajan (pigeon pea) plants in semi-arid Tanzania

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Background: Fuelwood is considered to be the primary source of cooking energy in Tanzania and, due to ongoing deforestation, access to fuelwood is becoming more cumbersome. On-farm agroforestry systems can reduce dependency on off-farm fuel; however, the output of on-farm produced fuel is typically uncertain as production potentials are often not known. In this paper, we have developed allometric equations to model the above-ground woody biomass (AGWB) production from intercropped Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Kunth ex Walp (Gliricidia) shrubs and Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp. (pigeon pea) plants. Methods: We used a destructive sampling approach, for measuring the dendrometric characteristics, such as the root collar diameter at a 20 cm stem height (RCD20) and the stem height to estimate the AGWB production. The models are based on 112 Gliricidia and 80 pigeon pea observations from annually pruned plants. Seven allometric equations were fitted to derive the best-fit models for the AGWB production. Results: We found that using a natural log-transformed linear model with RCD20 as a single predictor variable provides the highest explanatory value to estimate the AGWB production (Gliricidia: R2 = 95.7%, pigeon pea: R2 = 91.4%) while meeting Ordinary Least Square (OLS) estimator requirements. Adding stem height as an additional variable to predict the AGWB production does not improve model accuracy enough to justify the extra work for including it. Conclusions: While on-farm pigeon pea plants produced a stable amount of woody biomass per annum, annual fuelwood production from Gliricidia shrubs increased over the years. Compared to the annual fuelwood consumption data from the literature, our results show that on-farm produced fuelwood can substantially offset the demand for off-farm fuel, potentially resulting in household fuelwood autarky. © 2021, The Author(s).

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