Over two days at the end of February, together with Terry Pennington from Kew and Jaime Leon from Peru our team worked with the community of Motacusal to plant the first Inga agroforest plot in the Amazon. We planted 1,300 seedlings in a mixed system, 0.23 ha for annual crops (rice, maize, beans etc) and 0.7 ha for fruit trees (acaí, Cacao, Annona, acerola, cupuaçu). Inga edulis seedlings were planted in rows 4 m apart. Within each row the spacing for the production of annual crops is 50 cm for the production of fruit trees , 4 m.
Within two years our Inga plants will have improved the soil sufficiently to support the planting of crops. They will have done so through a combination of nitrogen-fixing root-nodules, copious leaf litter adding organic material to the soil and the shading out of weeds. By this time the crowns of neighbouring rows will be touching and have shaded out any weeds, the trees will be between 4 and 6 m tall and ready to be pollarded. We were very lucky that it was generally overcast and rained twice during planting, helping the seedlings to adapt to their new environment. They will still need looking after for the first year in the form of weeding every couple of months.