Milpafruit Tree Intercropping System In Sustainable Hillside Management Project

A major objective of this project was to identify alternative technology options for the target regions. Since no previous agronomic research had been conducted on intercropped staples and fruit trees, development of the MIFT system took into account the management of peach trees in the Puebla Valley and local cropping patterns for maize and beans, and assumed that soils on slopes greater than 20% would be a common condition. These slopes are in contrast to moderate

Figure 23.3 Living wall terrace technology in the semihumid tropics of Mexico, developed by the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agrícolas y Pecuarias. (Photos courtesy of Antonio Turrent F.)

Figure 23.3 Living wall terrace technology in the semihumid tropics of Mexico, developed by the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agrícolas y Pecuarias. (Photos courtesy of Antonio Turrent F.)

slopes in semihumid regions where the living wall terrace technology was developed.

The MIFT system consists of maize and beans cultivated either in association with one another or in a relay cropping pattern, intercropped between rows of peach trees in temperate regions, and between rows of industrial trees, such as coffee in semitropical areas. Peach trees are trained in the Tatura trellis system, and coffee trees in the central leader system. Both species are fertilized with N, P, and K every year. Fruit and coffee trees cannot be planted very close to each other in rows as is the case for Glyricidia sepium. Spacing in rows is between 0.75 m and 1.0 m, with 9 m between rows in contour. Peach and coffee trees are planted in the middle of the rows, which have a width of 3.0 m. The free strip of 6.0 m in width between two rows of trees is occupied by maize and beans in eight rows of 0.75-m width (see Figure 23.4).

Thus, trees occupy one-third, and maize and beans two-thirds, of plot land surface. Maize is fertilized with N, P, and poultry waste, and beans with N and P only.

Relay cropping patterns consist of beans, which are planted in February, and maize, which is planted 1 month later between two rows of beans. Land preparation and cultural practices are done by hand. Peaches bloom from January to February and are picked from late May to early June. Beans are harvested in June just after the rainy season begins. Then maize is grown by itself and harvested in October. Subsequently, corn stalks are cut and used to form the runoff filter discussed previously. This system is pictured in Figure 23.5.

In association cropping pattern, land preparation is completed using animal traction or manual labor. If land preparation is done in late fall, maize and beans can be planted in mid-April. Residual soil moisture from rainfall of the previous year allows seed germination and plant growth before the onset of the May rainy season. Harvest time is in October. However, if land is not prepared on time, planting is delayed until the rainy season begins, and the crops are harvested in December. When the rainy season is delayed, as in 2003, crops fail because of drought stress, and farmers have to replant

Figure 23.4 The milpa system intercropped with peach and coffee trees on hillside plots in the Mazateca and Mixe regions, Oaxaca, Mexico. (Photos courtesy of José I. Cortés F. and Mariano Morales G.)

On CO

Figure 23.4 The milpa system intercropped with peach and coffee trees on hillside plots in the Mazateca and Mixe regions, Oaxaca, Mexico. (Photos courtesy of José I. Cortés F. and Mariano Morales G.)

Figure 23.5 The milpa system intercropped with fruit trees illustrating the runoff filter as a key control of soil erosion on hillsides. (Photos courtesy of José I. Cortés F.)

the crops, using shorter-season local maize cultivars. Under these conditions, however, the growing season for peaches is not altered. The MIFT system, described in this chapter, is being compared with a system of maize cultivated as a monocrop and managed under traditional (control), improved, and no-tillage systems.

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