First year growth response to mulching with on-farm wastes in an oak-pine-soybean agroforestry trial

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Title: First year growth response to mulching with on-farm wastes in an oak-pine-soybean agroforestry trial
Author: Stevenson, Hayley Diana
Advisors: Paul Mueller, Committee Member
Fred Cubbage, Committee Co-Chair
Dan Robison, Committee Co-Chair
Abstract: Alley cropping may prove useful in the southeast U.S., providing multiple products and income streams, as well as affording sustainable land use alternatives to conventional farming and forest planting. Such systems in this region are of particular interest because they can help in soil conservation and nutrient retention and aid in sustaining and improving valued but degraded farmland. In the current study triple row single-species strips of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) and cherrybark oak (Quercus pagoda) were planted as 1-year-old seedlings separated by 12 or 24 m wide areas of soybean in spring 2007. Select individual tree seedlings of each species were treated with on-farm wastes, used as mulch in a circular area around each stem. These waste/mulches were hog bedding (corn stover + hog waste removed from swine houses), old hay (year-old rolled/slightly spoiled bermudagrass hay - Cynodon dactylon) and black plastic bedding film. After the first season of growth with the applied mulches, tree seedling growth rates were higher for cherrybark oak and longleaf pine seedlings mulched with old hay applied at 7.5 cm deep in 30 cm radius around each seedling. Other mulches had varying effects on soil conditions, but no significant impact on tree growth as compared to the untreated control seedlings. These first-year findings suggest that mulching with specific on-farm wastes may be a valuable management tool in temperate alley cropping systems. Longer term tree growth in this system and with regard to these initial mulching treatments will be studied.
Date: 2009-04-15
Degree: MS
Discipline: Forestry

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