How we plan to restore and maintain soil fertility using Inga

Inga agroforest as we plan to have in place by 2015
We are planning for the Inga seedlings that we sowed in October to be of sufficient size to plant out by March 2014 and for these to have grown to 2-3 m by 2015

Using densely planted rows of Inga we plan to harness the tree’s ability to colonize degraded acidic soils and use bacteria to generate the nutrients it needs. Together with this ability to increase nutrient levels necessary for plant growth, rapidly growing Inga trees also shade out invasive weeds and produce a rapidly degrading leaf litter that will kick-start the development of a productive soil

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Inga root nodules are one of the ways that Inga restores soil fertility. They consist of an association of Rhizobium bacteria and root cells. The bacteria convert nitrogen in the air to a form available to plants, and roots provide the bacteria with sugar and a home

By planting dense rows of trees 4 metres apart we will produce a high density of roots that below-ground will stretch between rows producing a soil in which can be planted fruit trees, staple crops such as beans, maize and rice or even timber or rubber trees. By pruning the fast growing trees every year the crops get enough light to grow whilst the tree’s roots continue to develop and fix nitrogen replacing that lost when crops are harvested.

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The abundant, thick and short-lived foliage of Inga quickly generates a leaf litter which degrades quickly bringing organic material into the soil and supporting the creation of a root mat

Inga is characterised by spreading branches which shade out invasive weeds. They are fast-growing and need to be pruned once or twice a year yielding a valuable supply of firewood for cooking. In addition the leaves bear several disc-like nectaries which attract ants, wasps and many other insects that serve to protect the tree and any crops planted nearby from herbivores.

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