Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Illustrated Cropping Patterns

Abe V Rotor

With practically all available flatlands now placed under cultivation or made into other uses, one of the last frontiers in agriculture is the rolling and sloping land. There is a technology called SALT or Sloping Agricultural Land Technology which the Department of Agriculture has developed. Other countries have similar programs like ours.

In this model runoff water slows down and in the process is absorbed and used by the crops. Trees bind soil and minimize soil erosion. They form a natural riprap along the contour of the field, functioning like levees or dikes of terraces. The cash crops between the trees are protected in turn from siltation, direct wind and sunlight. This alternate cropping of permanent and annual crops is recommended for sloping lands up to 30 degrees.

The coastal forest mainly composed of mangrove or Rhizophora trees is the counterpart of the forest inland and on hillsides and mountains. It forms a natural buffer against the raging sea, particularly in the event that tidal wave, or worse - tsunami - strikes. Together with the adjoining coral reef and seagrass, the mangrove is the sanctuary of marine and estuarine life.

Converting mangrove into fishpond, which is a common practice, destroys this vital ecological function. What is recommended instead is mangrove farming to expand the wildlife sanctuary, and on the shallow portion of the sea shelf, seaweed farming is recommended, so with fish culture in cages but on a limited scale so as not to disturb the ecology of the place.

Batangas, Cavite and Laguna are leading provinces when it comes to storey cropping. It is because of the fair climate with very short dry season, as well as the fertility of the soil being volcanic in origin. Multiple cropping is motivated by market demand, these provinces being accessible to Metro Manila, the biggest market for farm products in the country.

In this model the plants are categorized by their relative heights, seasonality, as well as their water and nutrient requirements, care being practiced to reduce direct competition between and among crops. Actually this model is patterned after the typical profile of the tropical rainforest, which on close examination is basically made of four to five storeys - which is the design of a pyramidal of multistorey cropping system.

In ecology the rule is to tailor the crops and other enterprises to the land, and never the other way around. In short, don't alter the landscape, don't change nature to fit with your design. Thus, in this model, the land is ideally managed by heeding its topography, water regime, soil type and fertility, and the like. A great advantage in this illustrated model is the unity and harmony of three parts of the areas that lend to the culture of three general commodities, each supporting one another. Here recycling is feasible. There is always work the year round. The farm is a recreation and park at the same time, indeed ideal for growing children, and lovers of nature. You are also creating a wildlife sanctuary in the farm. It is ecological farming in the true sense.

Living with Nature 3, AVR

1 comment:

Mina said...

Hi, Dr. Abe Rotor.
I've been following your blog since a year ago and has been listening to your radio program since 2008. I just want to ask some information as to where I can get some nutritional analysis or facts showing that plants/crops grown through natural/traditional agriculture are more nutritious and taste better that crops grown with chemical and /or organic fertilizers.I have this 5 year study by the Rodale Institute in California. It an experiment using this 3 methods of planting, chemical, organic and natural.However, it concentrated mainly on the yield,effects on soil and expenses. Also, on the general appearance of the produce etc.and not on their nutritional content. I want to promote traditional agriculture and eating chemical free veggies to my high school students as part of the curriculum so, I sort of want to show them some scientific findings. I hope you can give me some info on where to get such data. Thank you very much.