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Process studies in aPinus radiata-pasture agroforestry system in a subhumid temperature environment. I. Water use and light interception in the third year


In this study we determined soil moisture storage, evapotranspiration (ET) and light interception in an agroforestry trial consisting of pine trees grown over (1) control (bare ground), (2) ryegrass/clovers (Lolium perene/Trifolium spp.), (3) lucerne (Medicago sativa), and (4) ryegrass only during the third growing season between 1992 and 1993. The results show that:

  1. 1.

    In the period when rainfall was frequent and exceeded the evaporative demand (Epot), ET and depletion of soil moisture were not affected by the ground cover treatments. During summer when rainfall was less frequent, but with moisture readily available in the soil profile, ET was associated with plant canopy, and was significantly higher for the pasture ground covers than for the control. Therefore, the more rapid growth by lucerne caused higher ET in this ground cover than in the ryegrass/clovers ground cover in which the pasture was slow growing. At the end of the study period, total ET was in the following order: lucerne (757 mm) > ryegrass/clovers (729 mm) > Control (618 mm).

  2. 2.

    ET was dominated by pasture transpiration (Ep) during most of the growing season, but by tree transpiration (Et) in winter when large parts of the pasture canopy was shaded. Ep was always at least 16% higher for lucerne than for ryegrass/clovers species as a result of a greater radiation intercepted by the former.

  3. 3.

    Fraction of incoming radiation intercepted by the tree crowns was in the following order: control > ryegrass > ryegrass/clovers > lucerne. At the end of the one-year period, fraction of intercepted radiation was 140% greater for control than for lucerne ground cover.

  4. 4.

    The control produced the largest tree crowns, which were almost twice the tree crowns in the lucerne ground cover which produced the smallest trees. Accordingly, the trees in the control intercepted more radiation and rainfall, with the former being lost to evaporation, than the trees in the pasture.

  5. 5.

    The fractions of radiation intercepted and ET accounted for by the trees and pastures were associated with the proportion of the plot area they occupied.

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Ep :

transpiration through the pasture canopies (mm)

Epot :

potential evapotranspiration using Penman equation (mm)


potential evaportranspiration using Priestley-Taylor equation (mm)


evaportranspiration from the agroforestry plots (mm)


transpiration through the radiata pine canopies (mm)


photosynthetically active radiation (400 to 700 nm)


fractions of incident radiation intercepted by the pasture canopies (Qp) soil surface (Qs) and tree crowns (Qt)

S :

moistured stored in the soil profile (mm)


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Correspondence to D. J. Mead.

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Yunusa, I.A.M., Mead, D.J., Pollock, K.M. et al. Process studies in aPinus radiata-pasture agroforestry system in a subhumid temperature environment. I. Water use and light interception in the third year. Agroforest Syst 32, 163–183 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00711571

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Key words

  • water balance
  • Pinus radiata
  • Lolium perene
  • Medicago sativa
  • Trifolium spp
  • rainfall interception
  • competition