Teak Coppicing: Effect on the Yields of Cocoyam and Maize in Tain II Forest Plantations

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In Ghana, the approach for mitigating the ever increasing deforestation has been massive afforestation and reforestation by Government and the private sector with mostly short rotational tree crops like Tectona grandis (teak). This has led to the establishment of large plantation areas both in Forest reserves and off-reserves with teak trees. Most of these plantations have been harvested but the coppices (sprouted shoots) are not being managed and eventually leading to poor tree forms of the next crops after the first rotation. The lack of coppice management is largely attributed to high cost involved. Many authors have suggested the exploration of the use of local farmers as cheaper sources for coppice management, but have also indicated that farmers would co-operate if the design used would enhance the production of their preferred food crops in any intercropping system. In effect, no such investigation into the effect of teak coppice shoots on food crops has ever been done in Ghana. This study was therefore conducted in the Tain II Forest plantation in 2008 cropping season to ascertain the effect of teak coppices spatial arrangement on two staple food crops (Cocoyam and Maize) in the Sunyani West District of Ghana; in a tree based intercropping system. The study took a participatory on-station approach with some students and community farmers actively involved. Cocoyam and maize were intercropped with and without teak stems in 10 m x 10 m plots in a block, and were replicated in three blocks. The levels of coppiced density used were: no coppicing (control), single stem and double stem coppice shoots; the levels of coppiced spacing used were: no coppice shoots (control), 3 m by 3 m and 6 m by 6 m. In all, there were five treatment combinations and replicated in tree blocks. It was a Factorial experiment in Randomized Complete Block Design. GenStat software was used to analyse the data obtained. Two way Factorial ANOVA was used to test the effect of the treatments at 5% significance. Coppice density, spacing and interaction of coppice density and spacing of teak had significant effect on the yields of cocoyam and maize. The best treatment combination that yielded good harvest was 6 m x 6 m single stem coppice density for cocoyam (7.8 tons/ha) and maize (4.18 tons/ha). These were very good yields for both agricultural crops compared to the control (10 tons/ha). The study has provided a framework for the reintroduction of farmers into plantations for coppice management in Ghana; an incentive for farmers to cooperate in plantation development. This study has also provided a basis for making lands inside Forest reserves available to landless farmers. It has provided a scheme for cost effective teak coppice management in Ghana.
A Thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Agroforestry