In addition to restoring soil fertility to abandoned slash-and-burn sites we are also working to use Inga to rehabilitate degraded pasture and severely degraded soils. Soils that have been heavily compacted by cattle over several years or by heavy machinery. Rehabilitating such sites, especially in the case of cattle pasture could have a significant impact in the region because adding value to such marginal land could help reduce the pressure on natural forest. With this aim we planted two such sites in March 2014. Revisiting the sites in July has shown mixed results with some of the seedlings doing very well (see image below) whilst others are clearly suffering (see image above). In comparison with slash-and-burn sites where we have lost very few seedlings, and most of those to overzealous weeding,
Seeing whether seedlings in this condition survive the dry season will provide us with valuable insights for the future. The fact that approximately a half of the seedlings planted are suffering at these sites will also drive us to look for improvements in the way and time that we plant our seedlings. Possible solutions maybe planting earlier in the wet season, planting more seedlings in anticipation of loss, adding organic matter or fertilizer at the time of planting, or planting in deeper holes. On the positive side, what we have shown is that Inga seedlings can colonize severely degraded, compacted soils.