Assessment of the Maize (Zea mays)-Mucuna (Mucuna deeringianum Bort) Agroecosystem
Carlos Ernesto Aguilar-Jimenez, Alfredo Tolon-Becerra and Xavier Lastra-Bravo
DOI : 10.3844/ajabssp.2012.186.193
American Journal of Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Volume 7, Issue 2
Problem statement: In Selva de Chiapas, Mexico, the traditional farming technique of slash-fell-burn used on hillside fields has caused severe soil deterioration. Consequently, indigenous farmers reacted by developing several agroecological practices that improve the physical, chemical and biological fertility of the soils. Standing out among these techniques is the use of Mucuna (Mucuna deeringianum Bort.) in rotation with maize (Zea mays L). Approach: The objective of this study was to determine the effect of the maize-mucuna system on soil fertility, ecosystem diversity and maize crop yield. The study was conducted in the Tulija Valley, Chiapas, in the autumn-winter growing season (November-April). A completely random design was applied to four periods of consecutive maize-mucuna cropping (0, 5, 10 and 15 years) in order to analyze the most significant variables related to soils, weeds, seed bank and yield. Results: The results obtained reveal the higher nutrient concentration in the topsoil (0-15 cm) and better crop yield in the treatments with Mucuna rotation. No direct relationship was observed between nutrient content and duration of maize-mucuna system usage. However, the diversity of weeds and similarity of species both diminished where this farming method was used. Conclusion/Recommendations: It was determined that the use of the maize-mucuna agroecosystem helps to increase and maintain agroecological sustainability, supporting this practice that has been adapted and utilized by indigenous Choles for more than 30 years.
© 2012 Carlos Ernesto Aguilar-Jimenez, Alfredo Tolon-Becerra and Xavier Lastra-Bravo. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.