There is a way that you can produce food, fruit, animal feed, fertilizer, fuelwood and timber — all these things at once — on a small hillside plot.
Farmers in the Philippines use this method.
They plant trees in rows up the side of the hill.
The trees hold the soil in place and prevent landslides.
Now remember, the fields that I am talking about are on hillsides.
Sometimes the hills are quite steep.
On the upper half of the field the farmer plants trees.
The trees cover the top of the hillside.
The farmer chooses a variety of tree species.
There are trees for fuelwood and poles.
These trees will be harvested after four or five years.
There are trees for furniture and construction.
They will be harvested after fifteen years.
And there are trees for charcoal and lumber.
They will be harvested after twenty years.
All these trees are planted on the upper half of the farm.
On the lower part of the farm the farmer plants rows of trees and shrubs, which are sometimes called hedgerows.
The hedgerows are four to five metres apart.
They are planted along contour lines to prevent erosion.
In these hedgerows you will find plenty of nitrogen-fixing trees or shrubs.
The fact that the tree or shrub is nitrogen-fixing is important.
Nitrogen is the element in the soil that many crops use up.
But there are special plants — legumes, for example — that work the other way, putting nitrogen back in.
These are referred to as nitrogen-fixing and are ideal for growing beside other crops.
Between the hedgerows that I have just described, farmers plant their crops.
They plant rice and maize and vegetables between the hedgerows.
Between some of the hedgerows they plant fruit trees.
When choosing these crops, farmers keep their own work schedule in mind, as well as the benefits they will get from each crop.
When the hedgerows are two metres high the farmer cuts them back to a height of half a metre — about knee height.
The leaves and branches that are cut from the trees are not wasted.
They are spread on the soil between the hedgerows as fertilizer.
Contributed by: Henrylito D. Tacio, Writer, Philippines.
SALT-3 is a small-scale reforestation integrated with food production. The farm is devoted to about 40% agriculture and 60% forestry. This “food-wood” intercropping as designed in the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center in Davao del Sur, Philippines, shows that it can effectively conserve the soil, thereby providing abundant food, wood and income to the hillyland farmer.
This agricultural model was developed by the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center in Davao del Sur, Philippines. It is called SALT-3 (Sloping Agricultural Lands Technology) and is designed for a farm of two hectares in size.