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Exploring the landscape scale influences of tree cover on crop yield in an agroforestry parkland using satellite data and spatial statistics

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Trees in agroforestry parklands influence crops both through competitive and facilitative mechanism, but the effects are challenging to disentangle due to the complexity of the system with high variability in tree cover structure and species diversity and crop combinations. Focusing on a landscape in central Burkina Faso dominated by Vitellaria paradoxa and Parkia biglobosa, this paper examines how tree cover influences crop yield at landscape scale using satellite data and spatial statistics. Our analysis is based on data from 2017 to 2018 with differences in rainfall to assess the stability in identified relationships. Our findings showed that tree canopy cover and tree density inside the fields tended to decrease crop yield because of competition, but also that these variables when considering the surrounding landscape exerted an opposite effect because of their buffering effects. The explanatory variables representing soil properties did have limited effects on crop yield in this study. These patterns were consistent during the two years of monitoring. Overall, our results suggest that farmers in this area might manage the tree cover in a way that optimizes sustainable yields as canopy cover and tree density in most parklands is below the limits identified here where competition outweight the facilitative effects.

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