May 1, 2012

Traditional Management for Multifunctional Landscapes

Humans have been farming for thousands of years, and while the practices and tools have evolved significantly over that time period, some time-worn agricultural methods may prove invaluable in solving our modern-day dilemmas. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explores how a specific pre-Columbian indigenous Amazonian agriculture approach proved sustainable in the tropical savannas, which are at present typically associated with slash-and-burn practices. The research identified a lengthy period of this raised-fieldagriculture in the French Guiana, which improved soil fertility, aeration, and moisture retention. Moreover, the paper describes how channels between beds were utilized for fish and turtles, and these coastal savannas abut freshwater marshes and scattered forest patches. With climate change altering rainfall patterns, fire and general land degradation can have even more severe implications for the forests, grasslands, and agriculture in the region. Perhaps indigenous agriculture holds the key to increasing agricultural productivity, boosting resilience, and helping to alleviate poverty, all while employing more ecologically sound tactics.

Find the full article online.

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1 Comment

  • Pat Heslop-Harrison
    May 1, 2012 at 3:31am

    Sorry folks, nice though this picture of a rosy past it, I don’t want to join my great-great grandfather (and yours too, most likely, unless you are Prince Charles) as an agricultural labourer (or miner). And I don’t want to impose a 5am to 8pm regime of backbreaking weeding and watering from age 5, required by “indigenous agriculture”, on others. And exactly who is suggested to be on the list of the four billion volunteering to be eliminated to go back to the three billion or lower population that was sustainable for most of the history of agriculture?