Introduction of Raikhanim (Ficus semicordata) in a Maize and Finger-Millet Cropping System: An Agroforestry Intervention in Mid-Hill Environment of Nepal

Ram Pandit, K.C. Paudel

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    Fodder trees are integral part of farming system in the hills of Nepal, but designed agroforestry interventions targeted to particular trees and crops are not widely available. This paper examines the joint productivity of an agroforestry practice in which Raikhanim (Ficus semicordata) is planted in a maize (Zea mays) and finger-millet (Eleusine coracana) cropping system at Keware Bhanjyang of the western mid-hills of Nepal. Raikhanim seedlings were planted in a row on terrace risers 2, 4 and 6 m apart in ordinary farming conditions, in a randomized block design with three replications. Maize and finger-millet were grown on the terraces as intercrops with a control plot without trees on risers in each replicate. Growth parameters of Raikhanim-height, diameter at 30 cm above ground (D30) and survival rate-were recorded annually in December until trees were lopped for fodder biomass, and crop yields were measured to determine tree-crop interaction effects. Tree height and D30 differed significantly between spacings until trees reached the lopping stage 31/2 years after planting, with the highest growth in 4 m spacing. Tree lopping checked the height growth but the diameter growth continued to increase and differed among spacings after lopping. Fodder biomass increased with tree age and was highest under 4 m spacing (7.294 t/ha) followed by 6 m (5.256 t/ha) and 2 m (3.84 t/ha). Finger-millet yield in the experimental plots decreased with tree age due to shading effects, while maize yield was not substantially affected. Among spacings, control plots produced the highest finger-millet yield (1,624 kg/ha) while the 6 m spacing produced the highest maize yield (2,463 kg/ha). It is concluded that planting Raikhanim at 6 m intervals will produce additional fodder without significant effect on maize yield and only a moderate effect on finger-millet yield. The agroforestry practice of planting fodder trees on under-utilised terrace risers is a viable option for mid-hill farmers for simultaneous production of fodder and cereal crops while sustaining the hill farming system. © 2012 Steve Harrison, John Herbohn.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)277-287
    JournalSmall-Scale Forestry
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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