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Agroforestry for water management in the cropping zone of southern Australia

Lefroy, EC and Stirzaker, RJ 1999 , 'Agroforestry for water management in the cropping zone of southern Australia', in EC Lefroy and RJ Hobbs and MH O'Connor and JS Pate (eds.), Agriculture as a mimic of natural ecosystems , Current plant science and biotechnology in agriculture (37) , Kluwer Academic Publishers, London, pp. 333-358.

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Agroforestry has been advocated as a means of managing excess water that has accumulated
in the agricultural landscape of southern Australia since clearing of native vegetation.
The, article examines the feasibility and profitability of agroforestry systems designed to manage
rising saline watertables. A framework for Australian conditions is described that considers
the interactions between trees, crops and their below ground environment and how they
influence water use, crop yield and profitability. Data is presented from a study of a commercial
scale agroforestry system under ideal conditions where trees have access to a shallow fresh
water table. The discussion is then broadened to encompass soil, relief and ground water conditions
more typical of the southern Australian cropping zone, The relative merits of segregating,
integrating and rotating trees with crops are then examined. It is concluded that, in most cases,
trees would need to be widely dispersed over a significant proportion of the landscape to manage
deep drainage and salinity. Agroforestry is therefore only likely to be an effective solution to
water management where trees can compete directly on commercial terms with conventional
agriculture. Given the generally low rates of biomass accumulation in semi-arid woody species,
this presents a significant challenge for agroforestry in the cropping zone of southern Australia.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Lefroy, EC and Stirzaker, RJ
Publisher: Kluwer Academic Publishers
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