S.A.L.T the earth (Mountainous agriculture theory)

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When you see this picture what does it make you think ?

You may think these are merely grasses on a hillside just there for whatever reason.
Couldn’t be further from the truth these grasses and other shrubs have a very practical purpose in not only stopping erosion but also fixating nitrogen and also creating sustainable feeds for animals.

One of the biggest enemies of the mountain farmer is the incline that combined with (in many places) lack of stable water supply also coupled with el nino can spell disaster. We cannot solve all the calamities of the world but we can work in harmony with nature to bring a bout a more desirable result.

The idea behind it and a little history :

The Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center based in Davao Del Sur has developed a theory on harnessing the usage of tree and shrub legumes to negate erosion and conserve soil as well as fixating nitrogen and also food for animals as mentioned above.

This is a creation out of necessity due to the outstanding cost of conventional inputs.
Its appeal lies in it’s simplicity that any level of farmer can actually plot their inclined flats and actually implement this basic idea and IT SHOULD help in the areas mentioned above.

“The practice is that of a variation of alley farming in which field and perennial crops are grown in bands of 4-5 meters wide between contoured rows of leguminous trees and shrubs. The latter are thickly planted in double rows to form hedgerows. When the hedge reaches 1.5-2.0 m in height, it is cut back to 40 cm and the cuttings are placed in the alleys between the hedgerows to serve as mulch and organic fertilizer or green manure.”

I QUOTED THIS DIRECTLY FROM MY SOURCE MATERIAL AS I COULD NOT HAVE SAID IT BETTER MYSELF.

Good choices for your hedgerow are Flemingia, Rensonii, Kakawati, ipil ipil, madre de agua.
Good grass to consider are napier grass or lemon grass as well. For extra support (not necessarily nitrogen fixing but animal feed and root support) sometimes what you have available will dictate what you will use.

“Rows of perennial crops such as coffee, cacao, citrus and banana are planted on every third alley created by contoured hedgerows. The alleys not occupied by permanent crops are planted alternately to cereals (e.g. com, upland rice or sorghum) or other crops (e.g. sweet potato, melon or pineapple) and legumes (e.g. mungbean, string bean, soybean or peanut). This cyclical cropping provides the farmer with several harvests throughout the year.”

ALSO QUOTED FROM SOURCE MATERAL A VERY STRONG IDEA TO CONSIDER.
ALSO SOURCE MATERIAL QUOTE ON THE OUTCOME OF YIELD AND HOW IT IS AFFECTED.

“MBRLC has also conducted tests on crop productivity with emphasis on corn, a traditional upland crop in the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao. The influence of leucaena mulch on corn yields and the effect of minimum inputs of inorganic fertiliser on productivity were of interest to MBRLC.

One trial studied the effect of organic and inorganic nitrogen sources (leucaena mulch and fertiliser) on DMR-2 corn production over eight croppings. There was a significant increase in corn yields when either leucaena or fertiliser was used with the fertiliser being more effective than leucaena.

However, the leucaena mulch treatment produced double the yield of the no-fertilizer plots. Fertiliser treatments increased yield three-fold.”

With this gain and these benefits comes in some cases threefold raise in actual work input.
So the farmer must decide what balances in practicality vs cost effectiveness.
I think that many of the people that are into the agri tourism scene or just many people that have an idea that a farm needs to be perfectly manicured that idea is a misnomer.

PICTURE 1 WAS TAKEN BY ME ON VISIT TO EVRET ROBBERTS FARM IN SINACABAN.

PICTURE 2 credited from :
http://www.fao.org/Ö/agÖ/doc/publicat/gutt-shel/x5556e15.gif