Live fencing with Newbouldia laevis, Jatropha curcas, Agave sisalana and Pithecellobium dulce (a preliminary study)

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Four experiments were conducted at the Research Farm of the Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, Kumasi, Ghana (6° 43’N, 10 36’W) on four live fence species, namely; Jatropha curcas, Pithecellobium dulce, Newbouldia laevis and Agave sisalana, to determine their response to spacing; and on the two main methods of propagation of J. curcas and N. leavis, namely, sexual propagation and vegetative propagation, to determine their relative ease of establishment. Experiment 1 was set in a randomised complete block design (RCBD) and compared the percent germination and sprouting of J. curcas seeds and cuttings as well as the growth and survival of the seedlings and sprouts up to four months after planting. In Experiment 2, RCBD was used to compare the growth and survival of L laevis seedlings and sprouts four months after planting. Again, RCBD was used in Experiment 3 to estimate the growth and survival of A. sisalana bulbils at three different spacings, namely 20cm, 30cm and 40cm. Experiment 4 was set in a split plot design using the three species; J. curcas, P. dulce and L. laevis as main plot treatments and within-row spacing as sub-plot treatments to find appropriate spacings for J. curcas, P. dulce and N. laevis in live fencing. Single row fence sections were used as plots in the experiments. Data collected included percent germination and sprouting (for Experiment 1), percent survival, growth in height, growth in diameter (except Experiment 3), and spread of shoot (Experiment 3). Results from Experiment 1 showed a higher percent germination and survival as well as faster growth in height, diameter and root development of L curcas seedlings than cuttings. Seedlings had 83% germination and 96.9% survival at 4 months while sprouts had 40% sprouting and 34.4% survival. Seedlings also averaged 20.1cm height growth and 1.35cm diameter growth at 2 months while sprouts had 1.2cm height growth and 0.5cm basal stem diameter. Growth of J. curcas reduced drastically after two months due to the onset of a period of drought. In Experiment 2, no significant differences (P 0.05) were found between L laevis seedlings and sprouts though seedlings had 97.2% survival, 12.5cm mean height and 0.82cm basal stem diameter at 4 months while sprouts had 44.5% survival, 11.4cm mean height and 1.16cm basal stem diameter. Experiment 3 also showed no significant difference (P 0.05) between the three spacing treatments of A. sisalana with respect to survival, height growth, shoot spread, and the number of leaves produced. There were 100% survival for all treatments but the mean number of leaves per plant at 6 months ranged from 10.2 for the 30cm spacing to 11.8 for the 20cm spacing while shoot spread within the row ranged between 35.0cm and 36.1cm for the 40cm and 30cm spacings respectively and the spread of shoot across the row ranged between 33.2cm for the 30cm spacing and 35.4 cm for the 40cm spacing. In Experiment 4, J. curcas, P. dulce and L. laevis did not differ significantly (P 0.05) with respect to survival, although L. laevis had 97.5% survival compared to 100% survival for J. curcas and P. dulce, but significant differences (P 0.05) were found in the growth of the three species. At 4 months, the ranking order for height growth was P. dulce (52.1cm) > J. curcas (35.1cm) > N. laevis (17.0cm), while the order for growth in stem girth was J. curcas (2.3cm) > L. laevis (0.9cm) > P. dulce (0.5cm). Spacing did not affect the survival and growth of the three species up to 4 months in the field after which the onset of the dry season severely reduced growth and subsequent readings could not be used for statistical analysis. However, certain spacings showed consistently better growth in height and diameter up to 5 months in the field. The best heights as well as diameter growths for each species were found in the 29cm spacing of J. curcas, the 21cm spacing of P. dulce and the 41cm spacing of L. laevis. This research focused on initial growth patterns and further studies are needed to determine the performance of the species as mature stands under various management regimes such as pruning, and in association with crops and/or animals.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Silviculture and Forest Management, 1992