A long-term trial with Leucaena leucocephala was initiated in 1982 to test the sustainability of Leucaena-based alley farming compared to a conventional cropping system without trees and with continuous cultivation of maize. It assessed the integration of short grazed fallows in rotation within Leucaena alleys and their effect on soil fertility and crop yields.
The various treatments had no effect on soil pH during the four-year period of the trial. The organic carbon and total nitrogen contents of the soils under conventional cropping were lower by the end of the fourth year than those under alley cropping and alley grazing treatments, whereas soil phosphorus levels were lower in the alley cropping and grazing plots. Foliage dry matter production of Leucaena under alley cropping management ranged from 6.0 to 6.7 t ha−1 a−1 under continuous cropping and reached 8 t ha−1 when alley cropping was preceded by a grazed fallow. Crop yields were consistently higher with alley cropping than with conventional cropping. Alley cropping plots in rotation with two year grazed fallows gave significantly higher crop yields during cropping years than those under continuous cultivation.
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