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The distance from tree legumes in silvopastoral systems modifies the litter in grass-composed pastures

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 April 2024

Amanda Maria Gallindo dos Santos
Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Recife, PE 55.810-700, Brazil
Jose Carlos Batista Dubeux Jr
University of Florida, North Florida Research and Education Center, Marianna, FL 32351, USA
Mércia Virginia Ferreira dos Santos
Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Recife, PE 55.810-700, Brazil
Suellen Brandão de Miranda Costa
Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Recife, PE 55.810-700, Brazil
Diego de Lima Côelho
Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Recife, PE 55.810-700, Brazil
Erick Rodrigo da Silva Santos
University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, CA T6G 2R3, Canada
Naligia Gomes de Miranda e Silva
Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Recife, PE 55.810-700, Brazil
Bárbara Marcélia Martins de Oliveira
Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Recife, PE 55.810-700, Brazil
Valéria Xavier de Oliveira Apolinário
Universidade Estadual do Maranhão, São Luís, MA 65.235-000, Brazil
Janerson José Coelho*
Universidade Estadual do Maranhão, São Luís, MA 65.235-000, Brazil
Corresponding author: Janerson José Coelho; Email:


The use of silvopastoral systems with tree legumes is a viable alternative to recover and develop pastures, as they add N to the system influencing pasture growth. This study hypothesized that the herbage and litter of signalgrass (Urochloa decumbens Stapf) is affected by legume trees in the pasture. Treatments were composed of (1) signalgrass + Mimosa caesalpiniifolia Benth.; (2) signalgrass + Gliricidia sepium Jacq.; and (3) signalgrass monoculture. The 3-year experiment followed a randomized complete block design with three replications. Tree legumes were planted in double rows (15 × 1 × 0.5 m), in 1 ha paddocks. Litter samples were taken in five distance points (0, 1.8, 3.7, 5.6 and 7.5 m) perpendicular to tree legume rows. Signalgrass was taller at longer distances from the trees (P < 0.05). Signalgrass height differed between treatments, with taller signalgrass found in pastures mixed with G. sepium (15.6 cm) compared to M. caesalpiniifolia (9 cm) (P < 0.05). Herbage N content decreased with increasing distance from tree rows (P < 0.05). Litter N content followed a similar pattern, ranging from 23 g/kg under the trees to 12 g/kg at 7.5 m away from tree rows. Signalgrass did not grow under the tree crown (0–1.8 m), especially when intercropped with M. caesalpiniifolia. The findings of this study suggest that the type of legume trees used in the silvopastoral system has the potential to modify the pattern of grass growth and content of N in pasture litter.

Crops and Soils Research Paper
Copyright © The Author(s), 2024. Published by Cambridge University Press

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