Agroforestry is defined as the integration of trees and agricultural crops or animals in a single unit of land for the effective and efficient utilization of natural resources. Agroforestry systems have been considered as a sustainable and resilient alternative agriculture practice to ameliorate soil conditions and enhance crop productivity. Soil temperature and moisture influence many soil physical, chemical and biological processes that occur in soil. These processes include infiltration, hydraulic conductivity, greenhouse gas production, soil microbial activity, seed germination, and plant growth. Agroforestry systems can influence soil temperature and moisture by altering microclimate conditions such as light, temperature, wind speed and relative humidity. Plant size, architecture, row width, and orientation can cause spatial and temporal variations in soil temperature and moisture in agroforestry systems due to shading effects (Horton et al., 1984; Horton, 1989; Ham and Kluitenberg, 1993; Colaizzi et al., 2010; Pieri, 2010; Mittelbach and Seneviratne, 2012). Furthermore, soil temperature and moisture fluctuations in an agroforestry system can be complicated due to the various components in a single system such as deep tree roots, shallow roots of crop species, and complementarity and facilitation effects among the crops (Niether et al., 2017). Knowledge of the near surface spatial and temporal variations in soil temperature and moisture in agroforestry system can potentially enhance our understanding of soil’s physical, chemical, and biological processes in these systems.
Written by Mounika Pudota, Michelle Mbia, Srinivasa Rao Mentreddy and Dedrick D. Davis. Alabama A&M University