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Rotational woodlot technology in northwestern Tanzania: tree species and crop performance

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Growing of trees as woodlots on farms for five to seven years in rotation with crops was considered as a potential technology to overcome the shortage of wood which is a common problem to many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. The paper summarizes the results of trials conducted at Tabora and Shinyanga in northwestern Tanzania on rotational woodlots to evaluate tree species for wood production and yields of maize grown in association with and after harvest of trees. On acid sandy soils at Tabora Acacia crassicarpa A. Cunn. ex Benth. grew fast and produced 24 to 77 Mg ha−1 of wood in four to five years. On alkaline Vertisols at Shinyanga seven years old woodlots of Acacia polyacantha Willd. and Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) De Wit. produced 71 and 89 Mg ha−1 of wood respectively. Intercropping of maize between trees was possible for two years without sacrificing its yield. The first maize crop following A. crassicarpa woodlots gave 29 to 113% greater yield than the crop after natural fallow. Acacia polyacantha and L. leucocephala woodlots also increased the subsequent maize yields over a three-year period. The increase in crop yields after woodlots was attributed partly to accumulation of greater amounts of inorganic N in the topsoil compared to the traditional fallow and partly to other effects. Thus medium-term rotational woodlots are likely to contribute to meet the wood requirements of rural people and thereby help protect the natural woodlands in sub-Saharan Africa.

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