We are planning to trial three or four native species of Inga, the most common of which is the domesticated Inga edulis. Because we want to develop the approach in a way that can be easily be replicated by our partner communities we source seed locally. Inga seeds are known as recalcitrant seeds, that is they have no dormant stage as most seeds do and so cannot be stored for any length of time. So the seeds strategy is to hit the ground running and it is not uncommon for the seeds to germinate in the pod. It also means that we need to sow the seeds within 48 hours of harvesting them. Continue reading How to prepare Inga seeds for sowing
Agroforests were first promoted in the 1980’s but have never taken off in Latin America despite substantial investment through the World Agroforestry Centre. We don’t know why this is the case: whether too much burden of risk was placed on poor farmers, whether there was not enough engagement with farmers or whether the investment just never made it to the ground. To try and avoid the same fate we aim to Continue reading Our strategy for delivering Inga agroforests
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 Continue reading How we plan to restore and maintain soil fertility using Inga
Looking at 40 m high trees in the Amazon rain forest it must be counter-intuitive as a farmer to think that these are poor soils. If you can grow giant luxuriant trees then surely maize should be no problem? Well the thing is Amazonian soils are very poor and acidic and don’t support that wonderful forest. Continue reading Why does slash and burn not work?
All three of the new species were described in November 2013 in the journal Phytotaxa. Continue reading Three new nettles from Southern China
A member of the community of San José inspecting the germinating seedlings that he helped plant and has been tending. They took two weeks to get this big, about 15 cm. Once they are 40 cm tall, they will be planted out in rows four metres apart where over the course of a year they will develop into small trees and start to enrich the soil and sustain agriculture. Well that’s the plan at least.
As part of a Darwin Initiative project awarded in March of this year http://www.nhm.ac.uk/natureplus/blogs/tropicalbotanyresearcher/2013/05/02/darwin-initiative-grant-to-work-in-the-bolivian-amazon a team comprising foresters from the Bolivian NGO Herencia http://www.herencia.org.bo/ and botanists from the Tropical America Team at Kew are seeking to reduce pressure on the tropical forests of the Bolivian Amazon.
We are aiming to do so by encouraging the establishment permanent agriculture (permaculture) on degraded cattle pasture and disused slash and burn (chaco) sites through a series of demonstration plots established in partnership with four rural communities. Our aim is to use trees of the Inga genus of the legume family (beans, pulses, tamarind) to capture and restore soil fertility over a period of 18 months and then pollard the trees so that crops can be grown between the rows. Inga is the ideal genus to do so as it thrives and grows quickly, up to 6 m in two years, in the very acidic, poor degraded soils of abandoned chaco and cattle pasture. It captures and rehabilitates sites by shading out weeds, enriching the soil with its specialized roots and abundant leaf litter and attracting a host of biological control agents to protect the crops.