Banana plantations in Yunnan Province account for over 1/5 of the total planted area of China, serving as a pillar industry for local farmers. However, hydrological threats caused by the rapid expansion of banana agriculture have received little attention from the local government.
In a study published in Soil and Tillage Research, researchers from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) showed that spatial distribution of rainfall would be directly affected, and indirectly affect the water source prediction in banana plantations.
They researchers tried to explore the effects of banana trees’ funnel-shaped leaves on rainfall redistribution and plant water acquisition during the 2017/2018 rainy season in Xishuangbanna.
They used both the conventional and isotopic (δD and δ18O) methods to conduct rainfall partitioning, assess throughfall distribution, and predict plant water sources.
They found that most (71.8 %) of the gross rainfall was distributed by canopy throughfall. Banana trees absorbed 72.3 % of their water from the 0-30 cm soil stratum. Horizontal water acquisition was varying below the canopy of banana trees.
“Our study was one of the first to investigate the effects of bananas’ funnel-shaped canopy on rainfall redistribution and plant water acquisition,” said Prof. LIU Wenjie, principal investigator of the study.
“We hope that these findings will contribute to sustainable development of the banana industry in southwestern China. Further research into the effects of banana plantations on soil erosion and surface runoff would also be of use,” said Dr. YANG Bin, first author of the study.
LIU Wenjie Ph.D Principal Investigator
Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China
Rubber plantation in Xishuangbanna (Image by YANG Bin)