We established our first Inga agroforest plot on an abandoned slash-and-burn site in a community called Motacusal just over nine months ago. Since then the seedlings have grown into small trees, most of which are over 2m high. In another six months their crowns will be touching and they will have captured the site, that is to say, they will prevent any other plants from growing. This will enable the local farmers to plant what they want when they want and not have to worry about weeds. They will of course need to pollard the trees before they do so.
The rows have been weeded every three months but it looks like they may not need weeding again, or if so, only once more. The seedlings in the annual crop part of the plot in these images are spaced 50 cm apart. It was somewhat surprising to us that those planted to support fruit tree production, at a spacing of 4m apart have grown more slowly (see below). This has important implications for the weeding of the site, a major cost, and the time of fruit-tree planting and it may be that we will want to reconsider this spacing, maybe to 2 m, or even to 1 m. Adapting the design to meet conditions in the Amazon is one of the aims of our project and so this was not unexpected.