Marlito M. Bande1,3, Victor B. Asio2, Joachim Sauerborn3 and Volker Römheld4
Abaca is a shade loving crop with a good potential to be integrated into agroforestry systems that offer sources of income and prevent soil erosion. However, in integrating abaca into multi-strata agroecosystems, one has to consider radiation interception and the efficiency with which radiation energy is used to produce photosynthates since play a crucial role in the growth of these tree-crop stands. Hence, this study investigate the best shade plant-abaca combination and its influence on light transmission ratio in relation to the abaca’s morphological growth performance. The results revealed that the light intensity under the canopy shade of coconuts is sufficient for the growth of abaca plants. On the other hand, Rainforestation (the planting of native tree species to rehabilitate degraded lands) appeared to be an effective approach in restoring the functions of an abaca-based agroecosystem by improving soil quality suitable for the crop. Therefore, the tree-abaca under the Rainforestation system was the best combination. However, the sustainability of both production system always lies s on the hands of the farmers, either to cut or harvest the trees or old coconut palms for lumber or to preserve them for ecological purposes by providing shade and wind breaks for the abaca plants. Finally, due to high planting density in both types of abaca-based agroecosystems, fertilizer application and the use of high quality planting materials are highly recommended. Likewise, topography and exposure to strong winds should be considered during site selection prior to abaca-based production system development.
Keywords: abaca, agroecosystem, rainforestation, irradiance, shade crop