Agroforestry potential of Ricinodendron heudelotii (Baill.) Pierre ex Pax in Nigeria
Keywords: agroforestry, alley cropping, Ricinodendron heudelotii, maize, soil nutrients
AbstractWith the current geometric increase in Nigerian population and the depleted soil nutrients vis-à-vis decreased agricultural outputs. It becomes pertinent to identify important indigenous multiple agroforestry trees that would be compatible with food crops on the same piece of land for multiple outputs. This study aimed at determining the agroforestry potential of Ricinodendron heudelotii with focus on the ex-situ growth rate of the tree, compatibility with maize as a test crop, coppicing ability and its impact on soil nutrients. The experiment was sited at the Teaching and Research Farm, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, utilizing two alley widths (3 and 6 m) and control (15 × 10 m). Maize plants were intercropped with trees at two different seasons (dry and rain), six months after tree planting, but only the rain season maize survived for further analysis. Data were collected on the height, collar diameter and number of leaves of the trees and maize. Soil analysis was carried out before and after the experiment. The data were subjected to descriptive statistics, ANOVA, t-test, Kruskal Wallis and Mann–Whitney U Test. The results showed that the effect of alley treatment was significant (p < 0.05) on tree and maize growth with the 6 m alley having the highest values. The effect of planting distance was not significant on maize growth. The alley agroforestry practice significantly (p < 0.05) improved the soil properties of the site, especially for pH, available phosphorus, magnesium and natrium. The findings from this study indicated that it is possible to incorporate maize into the alley of Ricinodendron heudelotii for multiple productions.