Is swidden farming horticulture

Is swidden farming horticulture

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Slash and burn agriculture—also known as swidden or shifting agriculture—is a traditional method of tending domesticated crops that involves the rotation of several plots of land in a planting cycle. The farmer plants crops in a field for one or two seasons and then lets the field lie fallow for several seasons. In the meantime, the farmer shifts to a field that has lain fallow for several years and removes the vegetation by cutting it down and burning it—hence the name "slash and burn. Slash and burn agriculture works best in low-intensity farming situations when the farmer has plenty of land that he or she can afford to let lay fallow, and it works best when crops are rotated to assist in restoring the nutrients. It has also been documented in societies where people maintain a very broad diversity of food generation; that is, where people also hunt game, fish, and gather wild foods.

  • Shifting cultivation
  • Oh no, there's been an error
  • What is a Swidden field?
  • The Indigenous Origins of Regenerative Agriculture
  • Swidden Farming Essay
  • Slash-and-burn
  • slash-and-burn
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Shifting cultivation

Please cite as:. Fearnside, P. Agriculture in Amazonia. Lovejoy compiladores Key Environments: Amazonia. Pergamon Press, Oxford, UK. Philip M. Department of Ecology. National Institute for Research. Caixa PostalApril 10,Revised: Mar. Manuscript for G. Prance and T. Lovejoy eds. Key Environments: Amazonia. Pergamon Press Ltd. The varied habitat types of Amazonia, and the varied cultural backgrounds of the region's inhabitants, are associated with a wide range of approaches to agriculture.

Agricultural types differ greatly in their yields to humans, their production constraints, and their future prospects. Agricultural patterns are changing rapidly. In terra firme areas the traditional shifting cultivation practiced by indigenous groups has been replaced by other forms as quickly as the groups themselves retreat and disappear. Pioneer farmers often plant pasture themselves, and pasture is planted at an even faster rate by others who buy or take the land from the pioneers.

In addition to pioneer farmers who follow annual cropping with pasture, large ranchers are rapidly converting vast expanses of virgin forest directly to pasture. Speculation, even more than generous government incentives, makes pastures highly profitable in spite of low productivity and slight chance of sustainability.

Soil degradation and invading weeds reduce pasture yields after a few years. Fertilizers have been put forward as a solution to declining yields, but serious doubts cloud the long term effectiveness of this measure for sustaining pasture productivity.

Much more restricted areas have been planted in perennial crops with the help of government financing. Fungal diseases and world market limitations for the products make it unlikely that a significant part of the region's vast uplands will be planted in cacao, black pepper, rubber and other perennials. Mechanized cultivation of annual crops has also been introduced by a few wealthy newcomers, but long term prospects are poor.

Horticulture near large city markets has proved profitable, as high market prices allow the use of expensive inputs. Annual crops planted by small farmers is the traditional use. Researchers have followed a number of approaches in the search for more productive ways of farming in Amazonia. One program hopes to make annual cropping in terra firme into a continuous cropping system by applying a delicate balance of chemical fertilizers.

Both technical and human obstacles make the system's widespread use unlikely. A number of experimental agricultural systems are attempting to maintain some of the diversity and other characteristics of natural vegetation and traditional cultivation systems. Land tenure arrangements have a profound effect on the types and intensities of agriculture employed, and on the effectiveness of agriculture in supporting the human population.

The trend to more concentrated land tenure is related to the spread of cattle pastures as the dominant form of agriculture in the region. Each form of agriculture has limits to its ability to produce yields and support human populations. Some, such as pasture, are very low. Human carrying capacity, the population density that can be supported indefinitely at a given standard of living without environmental degradation given a variety of assumptions , is limited.

Amazonia's twin illusions of infinite size and infinite "agricultural potential" can easily mislead development planners into promoting wasteful and unsustainable land uses. The current rush of immigrants to Amazonia from other can soon be expected to lead to exceeding carrying capacity. Agriculture in Amazonia cannot be expected to solve growing national problems.

No single land use choice can ever be recommended for the entire Amazon, but rather a patchwork of different uses to fill different needs and accommodate different constraints. Careful definition of goals is an essential first step in helping agriculture fulfill its primary purpose: continued support of the human population.

Shifting cultivation or swidden is the traditional method of farming Amazonia's vast unflooded uplands known in Brazil as terra firme Span: tierra firme.

During the fallow period, woody second growth Port. Soil fauna, greatly depleted during the farming period, returns with consequent resumption of nutrient cycling and other roles in the forest ecosystem. Caboclos generally do not move their residences together with their fields, as indigenous groups often do, but are still able to move their plantings over sufficiently wide areas to have long fallows. Most of the region's river and stream banks now occupied by the caboclo population have only been farmed by these racially and culturally mixed residents on the order of one century, in contrast to the much longer history of occupation, very often of the same choice riverside sites, by Amerindian groups.

Caboclos lack the complex of cultural mechanisms which have been found in many parts of the world to result in long fallows among traditional practitioners of shifting cultivation.

When either primary forest or a second growth stand is cut for farming in Amazonia, it is essential that the downed vegetation be burned. Burning removes the physical obstruction of the dead vegetation, releases needed plant nutrients into the soil especially phosphorus and cations such as calcium, magnesium and potassium , and of particular importance, raises the soil pH. The extremely acid soils of the region yield only stunted crops if burning is poor. Low soil Ph has a synergistic effect with the low phosphorus levels, reducing the availability to plants of what little phosphorus exists.

During the farmed period, crop yields usually decline as a combined result of exhausted soil fertility and the increased inroads of weeds and pests. Where soil is extremely infertile, as in the white sand areas of the upper Rio Negro, the end of nutrient supply, especially organic matter from decomposition of the thick mat of forest roots, is believed to be critical Herrera et al.

In rich volcanic soils of Central America the invasion of weeds is credited with at least equal impact on yield declines Popenoe,The question of what causes shifting cultivators to "abandon" a given field can easily become a sterile academic debate, as farmers themselves are not concerned with levels of phosphorus, organic matter, or any other soil nutrient, but rather the net result in terms of yield obtained from their labor.

Increased labor demands of weeding, combined with declining yields per area, make moving to a new location more and more attractive as farmed period lengthens. The per area yield declines are themselves the combined result of the many individual agricultural setbacks, a kilogram lost to pests being just as unavailable to feed the farmer as a kilogram lost to stunted crop growth.

Yields, and their declines, are exceedingly erratic depending on weather, biological problems, and many other factors.

Sometimes yields will be better in the second year than the first, or vice versa, a large sample being needed to draw valid conclusions. Yields of some crops, such as maize, may increase in the second year of cultivation in comparison with the first Jessup, , although evidence is conflicting.

One contributing factor to an increase in the second would be the disappearance, as the farmed period progresses, of downed vegetation occupying some of the land area.

The soil itself may provide some explanation if allelopathic chemicals released into the soil by the original forest trees have a role in inhibiting crop growth in the first year after clearing.

Information on such possible effects is scant and conflicting. It is important to note that many indigenous groups are believed to move their residences, with consequent "abandonment" of swidden fields, as an adaptation to exploiting game and fish populations over a wide range of territory e. Gross, ; Roosevelt,For many indigenous groups the distinction is often blurred between an actively cultivated garden and an "abandoned" or fallow field, as tree crops planted in the field or spared the axe during the initial clearing may be harvested for many years after active cultivation has ceased.

Shifting cultivation is condemned by many agronomists for its inability to provide sufficient surpluses to allow its practitioners entry into the cash economy e. Alvim, , as well as for its leading to deforestation and erosion United Nations F.

Small clearings with short farmed times regenerate far more quickly than large pastures Uhl, ; Uhl et al. In the case of migration to the Amazonian portions of Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela, newcomers come from Andean areas.

The flow of migrants has swollen as a combination of worsening conditions in the source areas and the opportunity to obtain land in Amazonia by taking advantage of the many new highways constructed in the region. The new arrivals fell and burn the forest, much as do traditional shifting cultivators in the first step of a swidden cycle, but thereafter the differences in the two classes of systems become more apparent. A few of the pioneers are from caboclo backgrounds in other parts of Amazonia; these carefully select the land to be cleared based on indicator tree species present, and plant a diversified array of crop plants Moran, a.

Most of the new arrivals from other ecological regions find adaptation to the new environment difficult. Many of the responses lead them gradually to adopt some of the solutions long practiced by the area's residents Moran,The speed and path of the adaptation process varies greatly, however, depending in part on the colonist's background before arrival Moran, b, ; Fearnside, a. Pioneer farmers do not plant the wide variety of crops employed by traditional shifting cultivators Smith, , a,b.

The more homogeneous and larger fields planted are both more susceptible to pest and disease problems, and represent a more devastating blow when problems do arise. The Transamazon Highway colonists, for example, suffered a severe setback when virtually the entire rice crop failed in , as a result of an untested rice variety distributed by the government colonization agency.

The most striking difference between pioneer agriculture and traditional shifting cultivation is lack of the cultural traditions which lead swidden farmers to leave their fields in second growth for long periods before returning for a subsequent crop.

Pioneers clear young second growth only one or two years of age with frequency, not a practice that could be expected to continue for long.

Colonists have no intention of using a sustainable cycle of shifting cultivation as the basis for their agriculture. By far the greatest share of the land area, both in areas of small colonists and in large land holdings, is rapidly being converted to cattle pastures.

Annual cropping by small farmers cannot continue indefinitely in its present pattern, given the unsustainable features of the system. Cattle ranching, by far the most important agricultural activity in Amazonian rainforest, is growing at such a rate that it can be expected to dominate Amazonian landscapes in all parts of the basin Fearnside,Ranching is widespread both on the 15 million hectares of "natural" upland grasslands and in the rapidly increasing areas of planted pastures.

Beef productivity is low, but, far more importantly, it is unlikely to prove sustainable in the planted pastures Fearnside, a. The question of how soils change under Amazonian pastures is one of more than academic importance in Brazil.

Massive governmental programs subsidizing pasture in the region have received impetus from claims that pasture improves the soil, and, by implication, is sustainable indefinitely. Immediately after burning of forest the acidity is neutralized, with a change in pH from 4 to over 6 and aluminum disappearing.

This situation persists in the various ages of pasture, with oldest pasture being 15 years old, located in Paragominas. Nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium rise in chemical composition of the soil, and remain stable through years. Nitrogen falls immediately after the burn but in a few years returns to a level similar to that existing under primitive forest.

Falesi, 2. The soil changes led to the conclusion that:. The formation of pastures on latosols and podzolics of low fertility is a rational and economic manner in which to occupy and increase the value of these extensive areas.

Oh no, there's been an error

Slash-and-burn agriculture is a farming method that involves the cutting and burning of plants in a forest or woodland to create a field called a swidden. The method begins by cutting down the trees and woody plants in an area. The downed vegetation , or "slash", is then left to dry, usually right before the rainiest part of the year. Then, the biomass is burned, resulting in a nutrient-rich layer of ash which makes the soil fertile , as well as temporarily eliminating weed and pest species.

Swidden Agriculture (SA) or Slash-and-burn cultivation is generally considered as a agricultural system that damaging resources. As [1] stated that researchers.

What is a Swidden field?

Horticulturalists are small-scale farmers, but this should not be confused with family farming in industrial regions of the world. Horticulturalists grow not only crops, but often raise animals and gather economically useful plants. They generally produce only what they can consume themselves, a practice anthropologists refer to as subsistence farming. Horticulturalists are found in all areas of the world except the Arctic. The Chimbu of the central highlands of Papua New Guinea grow sweet potatoes, which are used to feed both people and domesticated pigs. The Chimbu recognize over different types of sweet potatoes, each grown in its own microclimate and having its specific use. Sugarcane, bananas, taro, beans and various nuts and fruits are also grown in year-round gardens. Pigs and sweet potatoes are both important resources for food exchange. Food exchanges were used to foster reciprocal relationships among people. If an individual did not uphold the reciprocal relationship by repaying the food exchange, they would lose status within the society.

The Indigenous Origins of Regenerative Agriculture

Shifting cultivation is an agricultural system in which plots of land are cultivated temporarily, then abandoned while post-disturbance fallow vegetation is allowed to freely grow while the cultivator moves on to another plot. The period of cultivation is usually terminated when the soil shows signs of exhaustion or, more commonly, when the field is overrun by weeds. The period of time during which the field is cultivated is usually shorter than the period over which the land is allowed to regenerate by lying fallow. In some areas, cultivators use a practice of slash-and-burn as one element of their farming cycle.

Sustainability of Jhum.

Swidden Farming Essay

Swidden agriculture, also known as shifting cultivation, refers to a technique of rotational farming in which land is cleared for cultivation normally by fire and then left to regenerate after a few years. Swidden, also called shifting agriculture, is the intermittent clearing of forests in order to grow staple food crops. A long fallow period follows after the first few harvests, which restores the productivity of the land, and some of the forest. What is another name of swidden agriculture? Swidden agriculture, also known as shifting cultivation , refers to a technique of rotational farming in which land is cleared for cultivation normally by fire and then left to regenerate after a few years. Swidden Agriculture.


Source: Manila Bulletin 22 MayDuring the recent international seminar at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture Searca , the group stressed that swidden should be understood in its national and global contexts. Their discussions provide ample arguments for authorities in various countries to assess their classification on swidden farming as a cause of forest degradation. Wolfram Dressler of the University of Melbourne said swidden farming can be managed well to help asset-poor farmers in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. For Dr. Thilde Bech Bruun of the University of Copenhagen, there is evidence that previous studies have most likely underestimated the amount of carbon stored in fields that lie fallow in swidden systems.

swidden. A form of horticulture that involves chopping down small bushes and trees, burning the cuttings, and farming in the ash for a few years.


The use of fire has been discussed as a means of forest clearance since the early years of research on the European Neolithic. The technique of slash-and-burn had been postulated by J. In E.

Swidden farming or shift farming refers to an agricultural system in which fields are cleared, cultivated and fallowed Vogt,Globally, farmers have employed this system for the last eight thousand years. It has since then been associated with the shifting patterns in cultivation necessitated by soil exhaustion Vogt,To regenerate soil fertility and exploit nutrients in a natural vegetation soil cover, farmers have to regularly abandon and shift their farming sites. However, despite its widespread use, swidden farming is no longer sustainable in the contemporary societies in most of the developing countries Vogt,

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Top 10 similar words or synonyms for swidden jhum 0. Top 30 analogous words or synonyms for swidden. Pearic peoples. Pearic peoples traditionally cultivate upland rice by the swidden method. Roy Ellen. Indigenous horticulture. There are two planting years for a single swidden for the Bine farmers.

Long before the arrival of Europeans, Indigenous populations protected local ecosystems and preserved biodiversity through land management and farming practices. As we rethink American history, we can thank Indigenous Americans for advancing practices that define sustainable agriculture and land stewardship. For hundreds of years, Indigenous Americans have planted more than one crop together in a practice known as intercropping. In this system, the corn stalks provide a natural trellis for the beans to grow on, which in turn help the corn grow by adding nitrogen to the soil.