Slash and Burn

By Casey Grenier

May 22, 2010

Category: Uncategorized

2 Comments »


This is how you farm in the middle of the jungle. Slash and burn agriculture is a more sustainable way: cut down an area and burn it. By keeping the burnt nutrients from the trees, it enriches the otherwise sandy soil. They only use it for a few years, abandon it and move to a different area, and just after 8 years it looks like jungle again. Here you can see the first processes of creating a farm, including a thatched barn: you can see the new green palms that haven't dried and yellowed from the sun yet.

2 Responses to “Slash and Burn”

  1. Slash and burn agriculture can be sustainable if there is a low population density. Unfortunately in many areas of the tropics this is no longer the case. This means that farmers are often forced to return to land that has not had sufficient time to restore its nutrients and end up exhausting it so much that an area that a few years previously was lush rainforest can become more like barren desert, unable to sustain any sort of crop. There is a differnt new method of agriculture though, which has been tried successfully in Honduras and Peru calleed Inga alley cropping, in which crops are planted between rows of pruned Inga trees into the mulch provided by their leaves and branches. In this way the nutrients are constantly recycled so the farmer can continue farming on the same area of land – he also acqires highwer yields than the usual slash and burn method and a free supply of firewood. If you would like to know more about this new technique, please visit http://www.rainforestsaver.org .

    • Thank you so much for this detailed comment! Yes, Guyana’s interior still has a low density population, making slash and burn still seem like an acceptable choice. I’m not an expert on sustainable farming or ecology, so I’m very glad my photography can be a catalyst for change and my blog can be a place to share more information on these very important topics.

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