In a field study on bamboo (Bambusa arundinacea (Retz.) Willd.) hedgerow systems of Kerala, we tested the following three hypotheses: (1) Effective root foraging space is a function of crown spread, (2) Proximity of trees depress lateral spread of roots in mixed species systems and (3) The closer the trees are located the greater will be the subsoil root activity which in turn facilitates active absorption of nutrients from deeper layers of the soil profile. Root distribution of boundary planted bamboo and root competition with associated trees in two binary mixtures, teak (Tectona grandis)-bamboo and Malabar white pine (Vateria indica)-bamboo, were evaluated using modified logarithmic spiral trenching and 32 soil injection techniques respectively. Excavation studies indicate that rooting intensity declined linearly with increasing lateral distance. Larger clumps manifested wider foraging zones. Eighty three per cent of the large clumps (> 4.0 m dia.) extended roots beyond 8 m while only 33% of the small (< 2.5 m dia.) clumps extended roots up to 8 m. Highest root counts were found in the 10–20 cm layer with nearly 30% of total roots. Although nearness of bamboo clumps depressed root activity of teak and Vateria in 32 the surface layers of the soil profile, root activity in the deeper layers was stimulated.

higher when applied at 50-cm depth than at 25-cm depth implying the safety net role of tree roots for leached down nutrients. Inter specific root competition can be regulated by planting crops 8–9 m away from the bamboo clumps and/or by canopy reduction treatments.