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Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 158 (2012) 31–40

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Soil carbon sequestration and erosion control potential of hedgerows

and grass filter strips in sloping agricultural lands of eastern India
Narendra K. Lenka ∗ , Anchal Dass 1 , S. Sudhishri 1 , U.S. Patnaik
Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute, Research Centre, Sunbeda, Koraput, Orissa, India

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Contour hedgerows and grass filter strips are important towards enhancing and sustaining productivity
Received 28 February 2012 of sloping agricultural lands in medium to high rainfall regions. However, impact of such measures on
Received in revised form 16 May 2012 erosion control, soil carbon sequestration and agronomic productivity have not been widely assessed for
Accepted 19 May 2012
the small land holders in eastern India. Therefore, an on-farm study was conducted between 2001 and
Available online 17 June 2012
2006 to evaluate the impact of the techniques on soil organic carbon (SOC) concentration and pool; losses
of water, soil and nutrients; soil moisture storage and agronomic yield on arable lands of 2–5% slope. The
study was taken in 5.95 ha area with six treatments and nine replications. Treatments consisted of two
Soil restoration
Carbon sequestration
hedgerow species (Gliricidia sepium and Indigofera teysmanni) and a control, with or without grass filter
Agroforestry strip (GFS) of a local species (Saccharum spp.). Using finger millet (Eleusine coracana) as the test crop,
Contour hedgerows the hedgerow species were planted at 0.5 m × 0.5 m spacing in staggered double rows and the GFS in
In situ soil moisture conservation a single row at 0.3 m spacing. In general, Gliricidia + GFS was most conservation effective followed by
Soil quality Indigofera + GFS. It reduced runoff by 33% (10.7% runoff compared to 16.1% in control), soil loss by 35%
Sustainable agriculture (6.3 Mg ha−1 compared to 9.71 Mg ha−1 in control), and SOC loss through runoff by 50 kg ha−1 yr−1 . In
Soil conservation addition, it resulted SOC build up at 0.352–1.354 Mg ha−1 yr−1 at three graded distance from hedgerows,
out of which 0.352 Mg ha−1 yr−1 was sequestered due to soil reclamation and about 1.0 Mg ha−1 yr−1 was
retained due to barrier effect. With higher soil moisture storage by 28–37 mm and 22–43 mm at 12 and
17 days of dry spell, respectively, the grain yield of finger millet increased by 49% from 952 kg ha−1 in
control to 1413 kg ha−1 in Gliricidia + GFS treatment. Addition of GFS significantly reduced the losses of
water runoff, soil and nutrients in all the treatments, and increased SOC stock by 0.38–1.0 Mg ha−1 in
the 0.6 m soil profile. The GFS also improved soil moisture storage by 9–12 mm and 6–15 mm at 12 and
17 days of dry spell, respectively. As compared to the pre-treated initial, the SOC stock decreased by
60–112 kg ha−1 yr−1 in the control indicating on-going erosion process in unprotected lands. The study
showed the C sink potential of erosion control measures in the sloping agricultural lands of eastern India.

© 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction with conservation measures not only reverses the process of soil
degradation but also improves the soil quality and converts these
Decline in soil quality, depleting soil organic carbon (SOC) and lands to potential carbon sinks (Lal, 2008; Lenka et al., 2012).
degradation of land resources due to erosion are the major imped- In India, 146.82 million ha (about 45% of the land area) area
iments for future global food security. The productivity of some is under various forms of land degradation (SoER - India, 2009).
lands has declined by 50% due to soil erosion and desertification. Degradation is particularly severe in regions with sloping and hilly
In South Asia, annual loss in productivity is estimated at 36 million terrains and those affected by unsustainable land management
tons of cereal by water erosion (Eswaran et al., 2001). Eroded lands practices such as shifting cultivation. The sloping and hilly regions
left unprotected lead to further erosion on-site and have greater of eastern India, called eastern ghats region with a geographical area
off-site impacts. On the other hand, rehabilitation of eroded lands of 19.8 million ha (Sikka et al., 2000) is such an erosion prone zone,
having characteristic link of poor lands with people’s poverty. For
instance, the share of good quality soil in Orissa is one of the low-
est, merely 10.4% of the land area of the state (Kumar, 2011). It also
∗ Corresponding author. Present address: Indian Institute of Soil Science,
happens to be the most backward state of India with 46.4% of the
Nabibagh, Bhopal, MP, India. Tel.: +91 755 2730970; fax: +91 755 2733310.
population below poverty line (Planning Commission, GoI, 2012).
E-mail address: (N.K. Lenka).
Present address: Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi 110012, Shifting cultivation is prevalent in the hill slopes of the region.
India. However, reduction in restoration or fallow cycle from 15 to 20

0167-8809/$ – see front matter © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
32 N.K. Lenka et al. / Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 158 (2012) 31–40

years to the current level of 2–3 years due to population pressure, sequestration studies, the sampling depth is restricted to 30 cm or
resulted in reduced farm output and increased land denudation less (Baker et al., 2007), which gives an unclear picture about the
(Lenka et al., 2012). This shifted focus of the people to settled cul- effects of conservation tillage on C sequestration. On the contrary,
tivation on the sloping and undulated uplands and medium lands, erosion control measures apart from soil amelioration effect mini-
with average slope varying from 2 to 5% and characterized by coarse mize the loss of C by reducing the runoff and soil loss, which should
textured Alfisols. These lands are located downside the denuded be counted while computing the net C sink benefits. However,
hillocks and are the major alternatives for the predominantly sub- impact of such measures on erosion control, soil carbon seques-
sistence agriculture practiced in this rainfed region of India. Low tration and agronomic productivity have not been widely assessed
soil fertility and erosion due to overland flow from denuded hill for the small land holders in eastern India. Thus, this study attempts
slopes do not permit more than one crop per year and a crop yield to compare the net soil C sink potential of selected soil conservation
of more than 1.0 Mg ha−1 in these lands. Finger millet (Eleusine cora- treatments and their efficacy for retaining nutrients and moisture
cana L.) is the most common crop and in lands with better fertility, in the sloping arable lands of a sub-humid sub-tropical region of
upland rice (Oryza sativa L.) is grown. Left unprotected, these arable eastern India.
lands yield to high runoff, get eroded and further damages the
downstream cultivated lands due to erosion and siltation. Putting 2. Materials and methods
these lands to conservation treatments can restore productivity
through reduced soil and nutrient loss, increased soil moisture and 2.1. Experimental site
soil organic carbon (SOC) storage and consequent improvement in
soil quality. The experiment was conducted in farmers’ fields in a participa-
Mechanical measures for controlling soil erosion are not afford- tory research mode for 5 consecutive years during 2001–2005 in a
able by individual farmers because of extreme poverty condition. micro-watershed located at Kokriguda village in Koraput district of
On the contrary, vegetative measures involving hedgerows and Orissa, in the eastern ghats of India (Fig. 1). The selected watershed
grasses are cost-effective, durable and find people’s acceptance in is a completely tribal village with illiterate (less than 10% literacy)
this region as they offer multiple benefits such as for fodder and fuel and poor populace. The experiment site is located at 18◦ 45 N lati-
wood. They are effective in low to medium slope ranges of arable tude and 82◦ 42 E longitude and at 910 m above mean sea level. The
lands (Chunale, 2004; Dass et al., 2011). The species generally used study area comes under sub-tropical and sub-humid type of cli-
are vegetative barriers of grass species or shrubs and their per- mate, with annual mean maximum and minimum temperatures of
formance for soil and moisture conservation depends upon their 30.6 ◦ C and 17.0 ◦ C, respectively. Mean annual rainfall is 1373 mm,
hedge forming ability (Sharma et al., 2002). Hedgerow intercrop- 80% of which is received during June–September. Soil type is pre-
ping though initially developed to restore the fertility of degraded dominantly red lateritic and acidic with pH around 6.0 and come
soils in the tropics has been adopted in other regions not only under udic paleustalfs as per USDA soil classification.
for soil amelioration, but also to provide additional products (e.g.
fodder) and services (e.g. erosion control) (Albrecht and Kandji, 2.2. Experimental treatments
2003). Contour hedgerows are reported to promote the SOC stor-
age because of a local effect under the hedge and also due to their The experimental treatments consisted of selected soil con-
anti-erosive effect (Walter et al., 2003). They are also effective in servation systems on miniature field bunds of 0.15 m × 0.60 m
maintaining soil fertility and reducing the soil and nutrient losses (height × width) in 54 plots in farmers’ fields with two hedgerow
in sloping lands (Lin et al., 2009; Tao et al., 2012; Xu et al., 2012). species – Gliricidia sepium and Indigofera teysmanni – integrated
As the cultivated lands are scarce and fragmented, systems such as with or without filter strips of a local grass species – Sambuta
alley cropping are not popular in arable lands of the study region. (Saccharum spp.); a control and a sole grass filter species (GFS),
The most acceptable measures are modification to field bunds taken in nine replicates in a randomized block design. Thus, the
through strengthening with vegetative measures with shrubs or treatments were: (1) Gliricidia, (2) Gliricidia + GFS, (3) Indigofera,
grass species. (4) Indigofera + GFS, (5) Control, (6) Sole GFS. The treatments cov-
Management practices such as conservation tillage (Lal et al., ered 5.95 ha area, with average land slope of 2–5%. The minimum
1999; Schlesinger, 2000) and erosion control measures can improve running length of the conservation system for each treatment
the SOC stock and net C sink potential of sloping arable lands. Keep- was 10 m. The hedgerow species were planted at a spacing of
ing in view the finite C sink capacity of soil (Chung et al., 2010), 0.5 m × 0.5 m in staggered double rows and the grass filter species
eroded lands, if put under erosion control measures, can be poten- was planted in a single row at 0.3 m. A total of 1800 m bund length
tial C sinks. Certain soil management practices such as application was planted with the selected treatment species during July 2001.
of manures, fertilizers, irrigation of semi-arid and marginal lands A third hedgerow species, perennial arhar (Cajanus cajan) though
for crop production, though increase the SOC status, are not net C was taken initially but was a failure due to its poor survival. Thus,
sinks for CO2 emission and do not contribute to the Kyoto Proto- from the year 2002, the treatments were continued with two hedge
col because of the associated carbon costs (Schlesinger, 2000). Even rows species and a grass species, as mentioned above, with a con-
the advantages of no-till system over conventional tillage for SOC trol and the monitoring of data such as runoff and soil loss started
sequestration is questioned in recent studies (Blanco-Canqui et al., from 2002. A schematic presentation of the treatment lay out is
2011; Ogle et al., 2012). SOC build up may be higher where the given in Fig. 2.
land cover is fully changed to pasture or agroforestry (Saha et al.,
2010; Lenka et al., 2012). But, subsistence farming as prevalent in 2.3. Test crop
the region, (Srivastava et al., 2004) may not permit pasture or agro-
forestry in agricultural lands used for growing food crops, even if To compare the efficacy of conservation treatments on crop per-
they are eroded. On the other hand, keeping the land use unaltered, formance, a medium duration (105 days) finger millet crop (cv.
eroded lands can be treated with conservation measures to offset Bhairabi) was taken at a row–row spacing of 0.2 m across the slope
the on-site and off-site impacts on soil and environment. in the first week of July during the experiment period. As the experi-
Much of the studies on SOC storage and C sequestration in ment was conducted on a participatory on-farm research mode, the
arable lands have focussed on tillage and residue management crop was sown direct seeded under rainfed conditions with nutrient
practices, but not on erosion control measures. Even, in majority of and weed management practices followed by the local farmers. The
N.K. Lenka et al. / Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 158 (2012) 31–40 33

Fig. 1. Location of the study area.


Crop area

Sampling point at
2.0 m from bund

Sampling point at
1.0 m from bund

0.3 m Grass filter strip

Hedge row (1 row)
Field bund 0.5 m 0.5 m
Hedge row (2 row)

0.5 m

Fig. 2. A schematic diagram showing components of soil conservation treatments on field bunds.
34 N.K. Lenka et al. / Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 158 (2012) 31–40

crop was supplied with 25 kg ha−1 each of urea and di-ammonium the gravimetric soil moisture data and the depth wise bulk density
phosphate and 2.0 Mg ha−1 of FYM. Weeds were controlled by one values.
hand weeding at 30 days after sowing and without use of any herbi-
cide. Yield of test crop was monitored for 2 consecutive years (2004
2.8. Soil analysis
and 2005).

The soil bulk density was determined by core method (Black,

2.4. Growth performance of hedgerow and grass filter species
1965). Soil organic carbon was determined by Walkley and Black’s
wet-digestion method (Jackson, 1973). Available N, P and K in the
To compare the growth performance of treatments, bio-physical
sediments were determined by alkaline KMnO4 method, Bray – I
parameters such as survival, plant height, collar girth, canopy diam-
method and NH4 OAC method, respectively (Jackson, 1973).
eter, height at first branch and number of branches were recorded
for the hedge species every year in the last week of October, up to 30
months after planting. After 30 months, hedge species were pruned 2.9. Soil organic carbon stock, SOC sequestration rate and build
and maintained at 0.5 m height. For the grass filter species, biomet- up rate
ric observations such as survival, clump diameter and number of
slips were recorded up to 30 months after planting. Soil organic carbon stock was computed on constant depth basis
up to 0.6 m profile for incremental soil layers (0–15 cm, 15–30 cm
2.5. Soil sampling and 30–60 cm) by taking the organic carbon and bulk density data
for each layer. Effect of a particular treatment was assessed in terms
Soil sampling was done by a screw auger from 0 to 15 cm, of carbon build up rate by subtracting the initial carbon stock values
15–30 cm and 30–60 cm soil depths at two graded distance (1.0 m from that of selected year and by dividing the time gap.
and 2.0 m) from the treated bunds in the up-stream direction and
for the whole plot. The samples of 1 m and 2 m bund distance were 

prepared from composite samples of two auger points to minimize SOC0.6 m = SOCi × BDi × Di × 100
the land gradient effect. The whole plot samples were prepared by i=1
mixing soils of four auger points including one from centre and
three from the plot leaving 2 m gap from bunds in each side. Initial where SOC0.6 m is the soil carbon stock over 0–0.6 m depth
soil samples were collected in 2001 and after 5 years during May expressed in Mg C ha−1 , SOCi is the soil organic carbon concentra-
to June of 2006. The samples were air dried under shade and then tion (Mg C 100 Mg−1 soil) for depth interval i (Di in m), BDi (Mg m−3 )
ground to pass through a 2 mm sieve. For soil bulk density, samples is the bulk density for depth interval i.
were collected by using soil cores from each treatment.
(Cx − Cx−n )
SOC build up rate : Ct =
2.6. Monitoring of runoff, soil and nutrient loss n

where Ct = rate of soil carbon build up (Mg ha−1 yr−1 ); Cx = SOC stock
Monitoring of runoff, soil and nutrient loss was carried out by
in the Xth year; Cx−n = SOC stock in n years before Xth year.
multi-slot divisors installed in only one replication of the exper-
Soil C sequestration rate is generally computed by comparing
iment. The plots for runoff studies were 8 m wide and 60 m long
the SOC stock in a particular year to that of the initial (Srinivasarao
with two cross bunds having the selected conservation treatments
et al., 2011). However, comparison with untreated (control) and
at a horizontal distance of 20 m. Runoff collected was measured
pre-treated (initial) mean differently particularly for eroded lands.
after rainy days with rainfall of more than 12.5 mm, by measuring
This is because of on-going process of erosion and continuing soil
the depth of water collected in the runoff collection tanks. Runoff
and nutrient loss in untreated (control) plots. It may be possi-
samples were collected for soil and nutrient loss estimation. The
ble that the SOC status of the pre-treated (initial) is higher than
samples were allowed to settle down and the supernatant was
untreated (control). Thus, in this study, SOC sequestration rate was
decanted and the settled sediments were dried in hot air oven at
computed by comparing the SOC stock in the particular year to that
65 ◦ C to estimate the soil loss. The runoff and soil loss monitoring
of the untreated (control), as per the following formula. Total SOC
was done for 3 consecutive years from 2002 to 2004. The required
sequestered was the difference between the SOC stock in a given
rainfall data was collected from the nearby rain gauge station. Total
year and that in control.
rainfall of 585, 717, 771, and 1096 mm was received in 37, 49, 48
and 66 rainy days during the experiment period of 2002–2005. The
(Cct − Cc )
pan evaporation data was collected from the meteorological obser- SOC sequestration rate : Csr =
vatory of CSWCRTI Research Centre, about 16 km from the study
site. where Csr = SOC sequestration rate (Mg ha−1 yr−1 ); Cct = SOC stock
in the conservation treatment; Cc = SOC stock in control; n = number
2.7. Monitoring soil moisture of intervening years between the initial and the year of comparison.

In the 5th year of the study (2005–2006), impact on soil moisture

was studied at certain days’ interval from last week of September, 2.10. Statistical analysis
when the dry period started due to cessation of monsoon rainfall.
Gravimetric samples were collected at two graded distance from The data were analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA) and
bunds (1 m and 2 m) and from the centre of each plot, from 0 to the results compared at 95% significance as relevant for a random-
15 cm, 15–30 cm and 30–60 cm soil depths. In case of intervening ized block design on the basis of least significant difference (LSD
rainfall of more than 2.5 mm, samples were collected after 4 days 0.05) values (Cochran and Cox, 1963). The effect of treatments on
of rainy day and then at 7 days interval. Two such periods with runoff and soil and nutrient loss was tested using paired t-test and
12 and 17 days of dry spell with corresponding evaporativity of the mean values were compared at 95% significance level. The coef-
34 and 47 mm, were chosen for comparison purpose. Volumetric ficient of variation (CV) was calculated by the ratio of ‘square root
soil moisture storage up to 0.6 m soil depth was computed from of error mean square’ to ‘mean’, multiplied by 100.
N.K. Lenka et al. / Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 158 (2012) 31–40 35

Table 1
Growth performance of hedgerow species under different treatments after 30 months of planting.

Treatment Survival (%) Height (cm) Collar girth (cm) Canopy diameter (cm) Height of first branch (cm) No. of branches

0.25 m height Top

Indigofera 39.08 73.17 6.81 17.72 42.95 68.24 6.06

Indigofera + GFS 41.68 71.40 6.78 17.35 40.92 77.06 7.07
Gliricidia 56.06 116.88 9.12 23.88 73.62 89.38 5.20
Gliricidia + GFS 51.49 101.42 8.86 22.26 60.19 87.65 6.63
Mean 47.08 90.72 7.90 20.30 54.42 80.58 6.24
LSD (0.05) 8.80 11.31 0.68 1.69 7.21 0.87 NS
CV, % 19.48 12.46 9.04 8.74 13.91 10.24 16.21

3. Results and discussion alone (without GFS) was not satisfactory. This shows better com-
plementary effect of Indigofera with GFS. A first line barrier of GFS
3.1. Growth performance of hedgerow and grass filter species might have favoured better root growth of Indigofera that resulted
in the best anti-erosive action. On the other hand, Gliricidia alone
The performance of Gliricidia with or without GFS was better was significantly better than Indigofera alone treatment indicating
than Indigofera with or without GFS in most of the growth parame- the necessity of GFS supplement for the best efficacy of Indigofera.
ters (Table 1). Highest survival of 56% was observed under Gliricidia The highest runoff and soil loss was observed under control fol-
which was at par with Gliricidia + GFS, but was significantly supe- lowed by sole GFS treatment. In all treatments, addition of GFS
rior to both the treatments of Indigofera. Maximum plant height significantly reduced both runoff and soil loss due to an additional
was observed under Gliricidia which was significantly higher than row of barrier and the short growing local grass proving effective
Gliricidia + GFS. Both treatments of Indigofera were at par, but with in breaking the runoff velocity (Dass et al., 2011). Comparing the
significantly lower height than other treatments. In terms of col- treatments with the control showed the best runoff controlling
lar girth and canopy diameter at 0.25 m height, both treatments treatment (Indigofera + GFS) can reduce runoff by 45% and soil loss
of Gliricidia were at par and were better than Indigofera with or by about 48% and provision of only a row of GFS can reduce runoff
without GFS. However, the canopy spread at top was significantly by 14% and soil loss by about 23%. Gliricidia alone reduced runoff by
higher in Gliricidia than with GFS. The treatments differed signifi- 26% and soil loss by 34% whereas GFS supplement further improved
cantly among each other with respect to the height at first branch. the conservation efficacy (runoff reduced by 33% and soil loss by
Provision of GFS lowered the height of first branch in Gliricidia 35%). Even 1-year old hedgerows could reduce runoff by 63–71%
but increased in Indigofera. There was no significant difference and soil loss by 82–86% (Lin et al., 2009). In a comparative study
between treatments with regard to number of branches. In general, of grass species, Dass et al. (2011) showed double row of Sambuta
GFS did not have any species specific impact with respect to sur- to be better with about 50% lower runoff and soil loss than other
vival, but showed differential impact in terms of parameters like grass species in sloping lands of eastern India. The grass barriers of
plant height and height of first branch in the two hedge species. napier (Pennisetum purpureum) and vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides)
Supplementation with GFS indicated a factor of competition in Gli- reduced runoff by 54 and 12% and soil loss by 92 and 48% over
ricidia, but favoured Indigofera performance. control, respectively (Owino and Gretzmacher, 2002).
Survival and growth performance of the grass species used as
filter was satisfactory. Even after 30 months of planting, the average
survival was 73% with clump diameter of 15.33 cm and number of
3.3. Nutrient loss
slips increasing to 13.39. The difference among treatments was not
found significant.
As expected, nutrient loss was lowest under Indigofera + GFS due
to low runoff and soil loss. Under the particular treatment, loss of
3.2. Runoff and soil loss SOC and available N, P and K were lower by 43, 56, 54 and 48%,
respectively (Table 3). However, it was statistically at par with Gli-
Averaged over 3 years of observation, the efficacy of ricidia + GFS with regard to all the reported nutrients (Table 4). All
Indigofera + GFS was found superior (Table 2) with lowest runoff the treatments were significantly better than control. The maxi-
(8.9%) and soil loss (5.0 Mg ha−1 ), followed by Gliricidia + GFS (10.7% mum loss of nutrients was under control with annual loss of SOC,
runoff, 6.3 Mg ha−1 soil loss). A consistently lower runoff and soil available N, P and K at 132.2, 7.35, 0.52 and 4.10 kg ha−1 . Provi-
loss under Indigofera + GFS was despite its poor growth perfor- sion of GFS reduced the loss of nutrients in all the treatments. For
mance compared to Gliricidia (Table 1). It might be possible that instance, under Indigofera, additional GFS helped in reducing loss
short and compact growth habit and better soil binding efficiency of SOC by 35%, available N by 45%, available P by 37% and available K
of Indigofera roots resulted in lower runoff and soil loss, when by 32%. The corresponding reduction in loss of nutrients due to GFS
integrated with GFS. On the other hand, performance of Indigofera under Gliricidia was 16, 18, 13 and 31% respectively. As compared

Table 2
Runoff and soil loss under different treatments during 2002–2004.

Treatment Run off (%) Soil loss (Mg ha−1 )

2002 2003 2004 Mean 2002 2003 2004 Mean

Indigofera 12.35 13.01 12.9 12.75 7.4 8.36 7.5 7.75

Indigofera + GFS 8.1 9.45 9.1 8.88 4.95 5.19 4.99 5.04
Gliricidia 11.53 12.29 11.8 11.87 5.26 6.57 7.4 6.41
Gliricidia + GFS 10.35 11.27 10.5 10.71 5.9 7.1 6 6.33
Control 14.75 16.25 17.2 16.07 8.8 10.24 10.1 9.71
Sole GFS 12.75 14.16 14.5 13.80 6.5 7.85 8.1 7.48
36 N.K. Lenka et al. / Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 158 (2012) 31–40

Table 3
Loss of soil nutrients (kg ha−1 yr−1 ) under different treatments (mean of observations during 2002–2004).

Treatment Organic C Available N Available P Available K

Indigofera 116.25 5.84 0.38 3.13

Indigofera + GFS 75.62 3.22 0.24 2.14
Gliricidia 96.15 4.14 0.32 2.78
Gliricidia + GFS 80.28 3.41 0.28 1.92
Control 132.24 7.35 0.52 4.10
Sole GFS 123.24 6.21 0.41 3.42

to control, sole GFS treatment could reduce the loss of SOC by 7%, but significantly best treatment was proved to be Gliricidia + GFS
available N by 16%, available P by 21% and available K by 17%. followed by Indigofera + GFS. At 2 m bund distance, the SOC was sig-
The trend of results obtained is comparable with the findings nificantly higher under Gliricidia + GFS followed by Indigofera + GFS
of Bhanavase et al. (2007) in rainfed regions of central India under in both 0–15 cm and 15–30 cm soil depths. The lowest SOC was
sunflower crop, where the loss of N, P and K was in the range of 3–6, under control followed by sole GFS treatment.
0.4–0.6 and 0.2–0.5 kg ha−1 yr−1 . Contour hedgerows could reduce The difference among treatments was also apparent in the
loss of total N and total P by 81–85% and 91–93% respectively in a whole plot SOC concentration. Gliricidia + GFS and Indigofera + GFS
trial under sloping conditions of China (Tao et al., 2012). The pattern were statistically at par and were significantly superior to other
of nutrient loss, by and large, followed the trend of soil loss. Water treatments in both 0–15 cm and 15–30 cm soil depths. Gliricidia
erosion affects surface horizon the most. Due to the low density alone was next best and was significantly better than Indigofera and
of SOC fractions than soil mineral particles and because of higher GFS treatments. Lowest SOC was observed under control in both
SOC concentration in top soil, there is a preferential removal of SOC 0–15 cm (3.84 g kg−1 ) and 15–30 cm (3.82 g kg−1 ) soil layers. Reha-
from surface layers (Lal, 2005). Also, recurrent erosion obstructs the bilitation studies involving land use changes, many times, show the
formation of stable soil–humus complex from the soil organic mat- trend of increase in SOC concentration after 4–5 years depending
ter accumulated during the non-erosion period of the year. Thus, upon soil type and climate. For instance, agricultural lands when
mostly light fraction and particulate organic matter substances that put to poplar plantations were a source of C in the initial 2 years but
form the major pool in the labile SOC fractions are expected to be afterwards the SOC content increased (Arevalo et al., 2011). A 15%
lost through the runoff water. In addition to the loss through soil increase in SOC content in the surface soil was observed in a 12-year
sediments and particulate and light fraction organic substances, hedgerow experiment with Gliricidia sepium and Leucaena leuco-
N is also lost with water due to its high solubility as compared cephala on a Nigerian Alfisol (Kang et al., 1999). Even after 5 years
to P. of trial with Inga edulis, 12% increase in SOC content was observed
under a Peruvian Ultisol (Alegre and Rao, 1996). The trend of SOC
3.4. SOC concentration increase may be higher if the degraded lands are put under agro-
forestry practices. For instance, Lenka et al. (2012) reported 89%
The SOC was higher near the treatment bunds and gradually increase in SOC of a degraded land ravaged by shifting cultivation,
reduced towards the plot. This trend was observed for all the after 6 years under a horti-silvi-pastural system.
treatments but was limited to only 0–15 cm and 15–30 cm soil lay- With GFS supplement, increase in SOC was observed for all the
ers (Table 5). Effect of treatments and distance from bunds were treatments at 1 m and 2 m bund distance and for whole plot in
not observed in the 30–60 cm soil layer. Also with depth, there the 0–15 cm and 15–30 cm soil layers. The highest improvement
was a decline in SOC under all the treatments. At 1 m bund dis- (31% at 1 m bund distance and 6% for whole plot) was observed
tance, in the 0–15 cm soil layer the SOC was highest (5.90 g kg−1 ) in Indigofera which indicated better performance of the species
under Indigofera + GFS which was however statistically at par with with additional GFS. This might be due to the slow initial growth of
Gliricidia + GFS (5.82 g kg−1 ). The next best treatment was Gli- Indigofera as compared to Gliricidia. The GFS supplement provided
ricidia alone (4.91 g kg−1 ). The lowest SOC was observed under protection from erosion in the initial establishment phase which
control which was significantly lower than the initial. In the helped retaining soil and nutrients and also improving the growth
15–30 cm soil layer, similar trend was observed among treatments and establishment of the hedge species.

Table 4
Statistical significance level among paired treatments for runoff, soil loss and nutrient loss parameters, tested at p < 0.05.

Paired treatments Runoff Soil loss Organic carbon Available N Available P Available K
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
* * * * *
i–g NS
* * * * * *
* * * * *
i–gf NS
* * * * * *
* *
igf–ggf NS NS NS NS
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
* * * * * *

i: Indigofera; igf: Indigofera + GFS; g: Gliricidia; ggf: Gliricidia + GFS; c: Control; gf: Sole GFS.
NS – statistically not significant.
Significance at p < 0.05.
N.K. Lenka et al. / Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 158 (2012) 31–40 37

Table 5
Soil organic carbon (g kg−1 ) at 1 m and 2 m bund distance and for the whole plot for different soil layers under selected treatments after 5 years of study.

Treatment SOC (g kg−1 )

1m 2m Plot

0–15 cm 15–30 cm 30–60 cm 0–15 cm 15–30 cm 30–60 cm 0–15 cm 15–30 cm 30–60 cm

Indigofera 4.52 4.30 3.42 4.22 4.13 3.38 4.16 3.94 3.40
Indigofera + GFS 5.90 5.24 3.40 4.90 4.45 3.41 4.52 4.08 3.37
Gliricidia 4.91 4.90 3.55 4.70 4.41 3.44 4.30 4.02 3.40
Gliricidia + GFS 5.82 5.41 3.37 5.05 4.52 3.52 4.50 4.10 3.43
Control 3.96 3.75 3.42 3.82 3.74 3.46 3.84 3.64 3.40
Sole GFS 4.32 4.15 3.47 4.18 4.02 3.39 4.10 3.82 3.38
Initial 4.08 3.85 3.44 4.04 3.94 3.40 3.96 3.83 3.40
LSD (0.05) 0.11 0.16 NS 0.14 0.18 NS 0.10 0.16 NS
CV, % 2.64 3.68 3.24 3.86 4.76 3.20 2.82 4.52 3.24

GFS – Grass filter strip.

3.5. Soil organic carbon stock (soil layer wise) The SOC stock of the whole plot was relatively lower than
that of sampling points at 1 m and 2 m bund distance. This was
The SOC stock was significant for treatments at all the sam- primarily because the under-tree effects as well as the erosion
pling points, but the trend was limited to 0–15 cm and 15–30 cm resisting effects of hedges were better pronounced near the bunds
soil depths only (Table 6). Below 30 cm, no significant effect was (Walter et al., 2003). In addition to litter fall and root biomass
observed. The SOC stock followed the trend of 1 m > 2 m > whole turnover, a favorable soil moisture and temperature regime might
plot. At 1 m bund distance in the 0–15 cm soil layer, highest SOC have enabled better microbial activity and SOC profile under the
stock of 13.14 Mg ha−1 was observed with GFS supplement in hedges. Most of the nutrients and fine soil particles that are washed
either of the hedge species and both being statistically at par with runoff water also get deposited due to barrier effect of hedges
with each other. Gliricidia alone was the next best followed by (Tao et al., 2012). Gliricidia + GFS and Indigofera + GFS were at par
Indigofera alone and sole GFS. The SOC stock in the control plot with each other and were significantly better than other treatments
was significantly lower by 0.25 Mg ha−1 than the initial indicating in 0–15 cm and 15–30 cm soil depths. As compared to the initial,
a gradual decline in SOC in unprotected lands. The pattern of dif- the SOC stock in the best treatment was higher by 1.19 Mg ha−1
ference among treatments was similar in the 15–30 cm soil layer in the 0–15 cm soil layer and by 0.53 Mg ha−1 in the 15–30 cm
but Gliricidia + GFS proved superior followed by Indigofera + GFS, soil layer. This is equivalent to sequestration of 0.238 Mg ha−1 yr−1
Gliricidia, Indigofera and the lowest under control. Provision of of SOC in the 0–15 cm soil layer and 0.106 Mg ha−1 yr−1 in the
GFS benefited all the treatments including control and the gain 15–30 cm soil layer. The next best treatment was Gliricidia that
in SOC stock ranged from 0.76 Mg ha−1 in control to 2.86 Mg ha−1 was significantly superior to Indigofera in both the soil depths.
under Indigofera in the 0–15 cm soil layer and the corresponding As compared to the initial, there was a decline of 0.22 Mg ha−1
gain in the 15–30 cm soil layer was 0.76 Mg ha−1 under control to of SOC stock in the 0–15 cm and 15–30 cm soil layers, indicat-
1.94 Mg ha−1 in Indigofera. ing a loss of about 88 kg ha−1 yr−1 of SOC from the top 30 cm
At 2 m bund distance, the SOC stock was highest under Gli- soil.
ricidia + GFS, both in the 0–15 cm (11.51 Mg ha−1 ) and 15–30 cm The trend of results compares well with the findings of other
(10.44 Mg ha−1 ) soil layers. This treatment was significantly supe- researchers in similar climatic conditions. An increase in SOC stock
rior to Indigofera + GFS in both the soil depths. The lowest SOC in the surface soil by 0.23–2.38 Mg ha−1 due to hedgerow inter-
stock was observed under control followed by GFS only. The unpro- cropping has been reported in degraded soils in the tropics (Alegre
tected control plot showed 0.45 Mg ha−1 and 0.36 Mg ha−1 lower and Rao, 1996; Kang et al., 1999). Hedgerows planted in a series can
SOC stock than the initial in the 0–15 cm and 15–30 cm soil layers, contribute to 13–38% increase in SOC storage (Walter et al., 2003).
respectively. Provision of GFS also benefitted the SOC stock and the The difference in SOC accrual is a function of time as well as soil
gain was highest (1.35 Mg ha−1 ) under Indigofera in the 0–15 cm type. Under restorative practices, rate of SOC increment is lower in
soil layer and the corresponding gain in the 15–30 cm soil layer coarse textured soils than fine textured soils (Albrecht and Kandji,
was 0.49 Mg ha−1 . 2003) which may be due to formation of clay–SOM complexes.

Table 6
Soil organic carbon stock (Mg ha−1 ) at 1 m and 2 m bund distance and for the whole plot for different soil layers under selected treatments after 5 years of study.

Treatment SOC stock (Mg ha−1 )

1m 2m Plot

0–15 cm 15–30 cm 30–60 cm 0–15 cm 15–30 cm 30–60 cm 0–15 cm 15–30 cm 30–60 cm

Indigofera 10.24 9.93 8.21 9.68 9.66 8.21 9.61 9.22 8.16
Indigofera + GFS 13.10 11.87 8.06 11.03 10.15 8.29 10.31 9.49 8.09
Gliricidia 11.19 11.25 8.57 10.86 10.45 8.41 9.93 9.53 8.16
Gliricidia + GFS 13.14 12.25 8.04 11.51 10.44 8.40 10.40 9.47 8.13
Control 9.15 8.89 8.26 8.94 8.86 8.46 8.99 8.74 8.21
Sole GFS 9.91 9.65 8.33 9.66 9.41 8.14 9.53 8.94 8.11
Initial 9.36 8.95 8.31 9.39 9.22 8.21 9.21 8.96 8.21
LSD (0.05) 0.18 0.34 NS 0.36 0.28 NS 0.19 0.20 NS
CV, % 1.82 3.63 2.78 3.84 3.08 2.82 2.36 2.65 2.63

GFS – Grass filter strip.

38 N.K. Lenka et al. / Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 158 (2012) 31–40

Table 7 Supplemental row of GFS increased the SOC build up rate signifi-
Soil organic carbon stock (Mg ha−1 ) in the 0.60 m soil profile at 1 m and 2 m bund
cantly under all the hedge species and control. Under Indigofera,
distance and for the whole plot under different treatments after 5 years of study.
the gain was the maximum and ranged from 0.93 Mg ha−1 yr−1
Treatment SOC stock in 0.60 m profile at 1 m bund distance to 0.18 Mg ha−1 yr−1 for the whole plot. The
1m 2m plot corresponding gain was 0.476–0.076 Mg ha−1 yr−1 in Gliricidia
and 0.318–0.128 Mg ha−1 yr−1 in control, at 1 m bund distance
Indigofera 28.38 27.55 26.99
Indigofera + GFS 33.03 29.47 27.89 and for plot, respectively. A negative value of SOC build up rate
Gliricidia 31.01 29.72 27.62 under control showed a net loss of 0.06–0.112 Mg ha−1 yr−1 of SOC,
Gliricidia + GFS 33.39 30.35 28.00 equivalent to 60–112 kg ha−1 yr−1 of SOC under unprotected con-
Control 26.30 26.26 25.94 ditions. On the other hand, the best conservation treatment could
Sole GFS 27.89 27.21 26.58
Initial 26.62 26.82 26.38
result in building SOC by 352 kg ha−1 yr−1 to 1354 kg ha−1 yr−1 .
LSD (0.05) 0.30 0.34 0.34 The SOC sequestration rate computed with respect to control
CV, % 1.56 1.65 1.42 was higher in all treatments than the corresponding values of SOC
GFS – Grass filter strip. build up rate (Table 8). This was highest in the Gliricidia + GFS
treatment ranging from 1.418 Mg ha−1 yr−1 at 1 m bund distance to
0.412 Mg ha−1 yr1 yr−1 for the plot. The order of difference among
3.6. SOC stock in 0.6 m soil profile treatments followed similar trend like that of SOC build up rate.
Provision of GFS resulted gain in SOC sequestration rate under all
The SOC stock computed for the 0.6 m profile (Table 7) was the hedge treatments and also in control. The gain under Indigofera
in the range of 28.0 Mg ha−1 for the whole plot to 33.39 Mg ha−1 was maximum and varied from 0.93 Mg ha−1 yr−1 at 1 m bund dis-
at 1 m bund distance in the best treatment (Gliricidia + GFS). The tance to 0.18 Mg ha−1 yr−1 for the plot. The corresponding gain was
treatments in terms of SOC stock were by and large in the order 0.476–0.076 Mg ha−1 yr−1 under Gliricidia at 1 m bund distance and
of Gliricidia + GFS > Indigofera + GFS > Gliricidia > Indigofera > Sole for plot, respectively. The SOC sequestration rate was higher than
GFS > Initial > Control, for the three sampling points (1 m, 2 m the SOC build up rate because, SOC build up rate when compared
and whole plot). Provision of GFS contributed to a gain in SOC with initial, does not take into account the factor of on-going ero-
stock and the gain ranged from 0.38 Mg ha−1 under Gliricidia sion.
to 1.0 Mg ha−1 under Indigofera in the whole plot samples. At Though there are few studies on the sequestration potential of
1 m bund distance, the gain was higher with 4.65 Mg ha−1 under SOC due to soil erosion control in the study region, but the find-
Indigofera to 1.59 Mg ha−1 under control. The improvement in SOC ings may be in agreement with the estimates of 0.5 Mg ha−1 yr−1
stock in the best treatment ranged from 7.03 (1 m) to 2.06 Mg ha−1 for agricultural lands of tropical regions (Lal, 2008). Under arable
(plot) as compared to control and 6.77 (1 m) to 1.62 Mg ha−1 (plot) farming, conversion from plough till to no-till was reported to
as compared to the initial. The loss in SOC stock due to continued sequester at a mean rate of 570 ± 140 kg C ha−1 yr−1 (West and
erosion as revealed from the lowered SOC stock in the control Post, 2002). Pacala and Socolow (2004) estimated a sequestration
as compared to the initial was to the tune of 0.44 Mg ha−1 for potential of 0.5–1.0 Pg C yr−1 by 2050 with conversion of plough
the whole plot, 0.32 Mg ha−1 for 1 m and 0.56 Mg ha−1 for 2 m tillage to no-till farming on 1600 M ha of croplands along with
samples. Thus, there was a loss of SOC by 60–112 kg ha−1 yr−1 due adoption of conservation-effective measures. Higher SOC build
to continued erosion. up is possible with complete land cover change with pastures
or agroforestry systems due to increased rate of organic matter
3.7. SOC build up rate and SOC sequestration rate addition and retention (Sanchez, 2000; Sharrow and Ismail, 2004;
Swami and Puri, 2005; Lenka et al., 2012). A SOC build up rate of
The SOC build up rate was significant for the treatments and the 3.5–4.5 Mg ha−1 yr−1 could be possible with Stylosanthes and grass
rate under all treatments was higher than under control (Table 8). cover in degraded hillock sites as reported by Lenka et al. (2012).
In general for all treatments, the rate was higher at 1 m bund If lands are degraded, the response to restorative measures may be
distance and gradually reduced towards the plot. The highest SOC higher and thus the C sequestration rate may be higher in the initial
build up rate was observed under Gliricidia + GFS, ranging from years before reaching a plateau, as compared to crop fields culti-
1.354 Mg ha−1 yr−1 at 1 m to 0.352 Mg ha−1 yr−1 for the whole plot. vated with management practices. For instance, the rate of change
However, this treatment was significantly better than the next best in SOC stock observed after 21 years in a rice–lentil cropping sys-
treatment (Indigofera + GFS) at 1 m and 2 m bund distance only, tem, varied from 0.043 to 0.462 Mg ha−1 yr−1 (Srinivasarao et al.,
not for plot samples. In general, treatments were in the order of 2011), which is relatively lower as compared to the findings of this
Gliricidia + GFS > Indigofera + GFS > Gliricidia > Indigofera > Sole GFS. study.

Table 8
Soil organic carbon build up rate (Mg ha−1 yr−1 ) and SOC sequestration rate (Mg ha−1 yr−1 ) at 1 m and 2 m bund distance and for the whole plot under different treatments
after 5 years of study.

Treatment SOC build up rate (Mg ha−1 yr−1 ) SOC sequestration rate (Mg ha−1 yr−1 )

1m 2m Plot 1m 2m Plot

Indigofera 0.352 0.146 0.150 0.416 0.258 0.21

Indigofera + GFS 1.282 0.53 0.33 1.346 0.642 0.39
Gliricidia 0.878 0.58 0.276 0.942 0.692 0.336
Gliricidia + GFS 1.354 0.706 0.352 1.418 0.818 0.412
Control −0.064 −0.112 −0.06 – – –
Sole GFS 0.254 0.078 0.068 0.318 0.19 0.128
Initial – – – 0.064 0.112 0.088
LSD (0.05) 0.06 0.12 0.08 0.07 0.12 0.06
CV, % 9.54 29.65 32.10 8.36 24.41 21.05

GFS–Grass filter strip.

N.K. Lenka et al. / Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 158 (2012) 31–40 39

(a) 180
34 mm, 12 days
Table 9
Yield of test crop (finger millet) under different treatments.
Treatment Yield (kg ha−1 )
120 2004 2005 Mean

100 Indigofera 1080.0 1352.2 1216.1


Indigofera + GFS 1263.1 1471.1 1367.1

80 Gliricidia 1227.8 1225.6 1226.7
60 Gliricidia + GFS 1404.7 1421.1 1412.9
Control 874.1 1030.0 952.05
Sole GFS 1057.8 1083.3 1070.5
20 LSD (0.05) 43.1 83.6 –
CV, % 5.84 8.45 –
i igf g ggf c gf LSD GFS – Grass filter strip.

than Indigofera + GFS (156 mm). All the treatments with GFS were
(b) 180 47 mm, 17 days 1m
significantly better than the corresponding no-GFS treatment. Sim-
160 2m ilar trend continued at 2 m bund distance, but  was lower. At the
140 Centre centre of the plot,  was the least as expected and varied from 114
120 to 142 mm with the highest storage under Gliricidia + GFS. Higher
100 soil moisture storage near the treatment bunds was due to the bar-

rier effect resulting in deposition of nutrients and also due to the

higher SOC built up from the litter fall (Walter et al., 2003; Dass
60 et al., 2011). Competition between crops and vegetative barriers
40 for water is an important factor while selecting species for use in
20 erosion control. In a similar study in Central Kenya soil moisture
regime was 56–77% better near Leucaena barriers and though Leu-
i igf g ggf c gf LSD caena was observed to have a complementary water use pattern,
Treatments Napier grass depleted the available water status (Guto et al., 2011).
With increased dry period and at an evaporativity of 47 mm
i :Indigofera, igf : Indigofera + GFS, g: Gliricidia, ggf: Gliricidia + GFS, c: Control, gf: GFS
LSD : Least significant difference, at P < 0.05 corresponding to a dry period of 17 days,  reduced by 9–15 mm
at 1 m bund distance, 8–16 mm at 2 m and 7–14 mm at centre of
Fig. 3. Volumetric soil moisture storage (, mm) in the 0.6 m soil profile under dif- the plot. The trend of difference among treatments was similar
ferent treatments at (a) 34 mm evaporativity and 12 days dry spell and (b) 47 mm
to evaporativity of 34 mm. At all sampling points, Gliricidia + GFS
evaporativity and 17 days dry spell.
retained higher soil moisture followed by Indigofera + GFS and the
lowest was in control. The variation in  was from 112–155 mm at
In fact, erosion control and SOC status are complementary to 1 m, 116–138 mm at 2 m and 102–132 mm at centre of the plot. In
each other. A higher SOC status permits less erosion where as better general, provision of GFS resulted higher moisture storage under
erosion control promotes SOC build up and improves soil aggrega- each treatment. The gain in  due to GFS supplement ranged from
tion and soil quality. The increase in SOC build up rate as observed 9 to 12 mm and 6–15 mm at evaporativity of 34 mm and 47 mm,
in this study may be due to the effect of conservation treatments respectively.
on soil reclamation (Albrecht and Kandji, 2003) and also due to the
barrier effect and the consequent retention of sediments, SOC and 3.9. Yield of test crop
nutrients in treated plots (Walter et al., 2003). The amelioration
effect of erosion control measures primarily arise from the higher The yield data showed a similar trend of difference among
SOC and the role of SOC in promoting soil aggregation, which in treatments with highest crop yield under Gliricidia + GFS, which
turn, conserves soil organic matter and enhances the SOC functions was at par with Indigofera + GFS (Table 9). In 2004 crop season,
(Carter, 2002). yield varied from 874.1 kg ha−1 in control to 1404.7 kg ha−1 in Gli-
An estimate to segregate the effect of the two mechanisms ricidia + GFS. The yield levels in 2005 ranged from 1030 kg ha−1
can be obtained from the difference in the SOC build up rate in control to 1471.1 kg ha−1 in Indigofera + GFS. However, Gliri-
of the whole plot and that at 1 m bund distance. Thus, in the cidia + GFS and Indigofera + GFS were at par with each other. The
overall best treatment (Gliricidia + GFS), 0.352 Mg ha−1 yr−1 of SOC general trend of difference among treatments was in the order
could be sequestered due to soil reclamation whereas about of Gliricidia + GFS ≈ Indigofera + GFS > Gliricidia ≈ Indigofera > Sole
1.002 Mg ha−1 yr−1 of SOC was primarily retained due to the barrier GFS > Control. Provision of GFS contributed to increase in crop yield
effect and contributing to the higher SOC build up. A higher nutrient ranging from 177 to 183 kg ha−1 in 2004 and 53–195 kg ha−1 in
status particularly N in the conservation treatments, due to reduced 2005 crop season, corresponding to 15–22% increase in 2004 and
loss through runoff, also contributed to higher C sequestration (Lal, 5–16% increase in 2005. As compared to control, the best treatment
2008). could produce 61% and 43% higher crop yield which was primarily
due to better SOC status and higher soil moisture storage (Sudhishri
3.8. Soil moisture et al., 2008). Similar increase in maize yield was observed with Leu-
caena barrier and the better growth performance at areas away
The volumetric soil moisture content () computed up to 0.6 m from barriers in the terraces led to 14% higher yield and com-
soil profile was higher at 1 m bund distance and reduced towards pensated the loss of yield near the barriers due to crop–grass
centre of the plots (Fig. 3). At 1 m bund distance,  in the 0.6 m competition (Guto et al., 2011). The adverse effect of soil moisture
soil profile ranged from 164 mm under Gliricidia + GFS to 127 mm depletion due to higher water use by grass barriers such as Napier
under control, at a cumulative evaporation of 34 mm correspond- (Guto et al., 2011) was not observed in this study because the grass
ing to 12 days of dry period. Gliricidia + GFS was significantly better barrier provided was supplemental in a single row and with short
40 N.K. Lenka et al. / Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 158 (2012) 31–40

growth habit. A reduction in crop yield up to 1.08 m from the barrier moisture, fertility and crop productivity in southern Orissa, India. Nutr. Cycl.
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Sharda, Director, Central Soil and Water Conservation Research Dhyani, S.K., Tripathy, K.P., Singh, R., Raizada, A., Sharma, N.K., Mishra, A.S., Shri-
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