Science Target Conference Systems, Ajman 4th International Environment Conference 2016

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Crop/species diversification for sustaining soil and mitigating drought in planted ecosystems of rubber
Jessy M.D.

Last modified: 2015-11-25

Abstract


Loss of biodiversity, soil degradation and increasing drought are important concerns facing agriculture globally. Productivity of planted forest systems is also influenced by these environmental concerns and landscape level interventions are necessary to sustain soil and land productivity in these ecosystems. Several multispecies  natural rubber based ecosystems were evaluated in India for their effect on  drought mitigation, soil sustainability and income generation. Including other crops in the interspaces  in a natural rubber holding improved soil moisture status during dry season and mitigated drought. Crop diversification also improved population of soil microbes and  macrofauna. Judicious crop mixing  resulted in better utilization of land,  improved income and reduced market dependence of farmers leading to better livelihood opportunities, without adversely affecting the productivity of natural rubber, the main crop.  Soil nutrient status was sustained/improved in multi-crop systems. Permitting natural flora in the interspaces increased soil pH and improved soil cation status, and is a low input and effective  strategy to reverse soil degradation in intensively cultivated  tree crop ecosystems.  The studies clearly show the ecological  advantages of judicious crop/ species mixing in planted forest ecosystems, which can be easily exploited to advantage, even by the most resource poor farmers.

Key words: planted forests, rubber, species diversity, drought mitigation, soil sustainability