Water and nitrogen dynamics in rotational woodlots of five tree species in western Tanzania

G.I. Nyadzi, B.H. Janssen, R.M. Otsyina, H.W.G. Booltink, C.K. Ong, O. Oenema

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10 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study was to compare the effects of woodlots of five tree species, continuous maize (Zea mays L.) and natural fallow on soil water and nitrogen dynamics in western Tanzania. The tree species evaluated were Acacia crassicarpa (A. Cunn. ex Benth.), Acacia julifera ( Berth.), Acacia leptocarpa ( A. Cunn. ex Benth), Leucaena pallida (Britton and Rose), and Senna siamea (Lamarck) Irwin & Barneby). The field experiment was established in November 1996 in a completely randomized block design replicated three times. Maize was intercropped between the trees during the first three years after planting and thereafter the trees were allowed to grow as pure woodlots for another two years. Transpiration by the trees was monitored when they were 3 years old using sap flow gauges. Soil water content was measured using the neutron probe approach between November 1999 and March 2001. Soil inorganic N profiles were measured when the trees were four years old in all treatments. The results indicated that the trees transpired more water than natural fallow vegetation during the dry season. The difference was apparent at a depth of 35 cm soil, but was more pronounced in deeper horizons. The water content in the entire soil profile under woodlots and natural fallow during the dry period was 0.01 to 0.06 cm(3) cm(-3) lower than in the annual cropped plots. This pattern was reversed after rainfall, when woodlots of A. crassicarpa, A. leptocarpa, A. julifera, S. siamea and L. pallida contained greater quantity of stored water than natural fallow or continuous maize by as much as 0.00 to 0.02, 0.01 to 0.04, 0.01 to 0.04, 0.01 to 0.03 and 0.00 to 0.02 cm(3) cm(-3), respectively. Natural fallow plots contained the lowest quantity of stored water within the entire profile during this period. Transpiration was greatest in A. crassicarpa and lowest in L. pallida. All tree species examined were 'scavengers' of N and retrieved inorganic N from soil horizons up to 2-m depth and increased its concentration close to their trunks. This study has provided evidence in semi-arid environments that woodlots can effectively retrieve subsoil N and store more soil water after rains than natural fallow and bare soil.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-229
Number of pages14
JournalAgroforestry Systems
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • tropical agroforestry systems
  • vegetation
  • velocity
  • cation
  • root

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