University Of Tasmania
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Agroforestry for water management in the cropping zone of southern Australia

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posted on 2023-05-25, 22:29 authored by Edward LefroyEdward Lefroy, Stirzaker, RJ
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. This 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.


Publication title

Agroforestry Systems





Article number







0167- 4366

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