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The Potential of Dryland Farming with a Prosopis-based Agroforestry System

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The Prosopis genus of trees, also known as mesquites, are uniquely equipped to allow for an agroforestry regime in which crops can be grown beneath the canopy of the tree.

The Prosopis genus of trees, also known as mesquites, are uniquely equipped to allow for an agroforestry regime in which crops can be grown beneath the canopy of the tree. Mesquites have the ability to redistribute water moisture in such a way that allows plants under the canopy to use water that has been brought up by the roots of mesquite trees. This means that there is a potential for food crops to be grown under the trees without using additional irrigation measures. This could be used where access to water is limited or for a sustainability-minded farmer who is trying to reduce water inputs in an arid environment. Mesquite trees produce a variety of products, including lumber and bean pods that can be ground down into an edible flour. Both products demand a high price in the marketplace and are produced in addition to the crops that can potentially be grown beneath the mesquite tree. In order to determine whether or not it is possible to grow crops under mesquite trees, I reviewed a wide range of literature regarding hydraulic redistribution, mesquite trees in general, and what plants might be best suited for growing beneath a mesquite. The list of plants was narrowed down to four crops that seemed most likely to survive in shaded, low water conditions in a hot environment. There has not been any research done on crops growing beneath mesquite trees, so the next step for research would be to experiment with each of the crops to determine how well each species can adapt to the specified conditions.

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  • 2016-12