The Potential for Poplar and Willow Silvopastoral Systems to Mitigate Nitrate Leaching from Intensive Agriculture in New Zealand

This review compiles information on the use of poplars and willows in agricultural systems and explores their potential application to the management of NO3- leaching. Studies show reduced NO3- leaching under short rotation coppice willows. However, the establishment and harvesting phases are risk periods for NO3-leaching where nitrogen application should be avoided. A case study has identified a potential for role of poplar and willow silvopastoral systems on intensively-managed irrigated farms of the Canterbury Plains. Height restrictions due to overhead irrigation, stock fodder value and the need to restrict light competition with pastures suggest Salix viminalis (with annual coppicing) is the most suitable species for integration into these farms. Further research is needed to quantify both the possible reduction in N losses and the additional on and off-farm benefits of poplar and willow silvopastoralism in the context of intensive farming in New Zealand.  Read full document

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