Soil Management on Steep Slopes

dpotter at dpotter at
Sun Mar 6 13:57:04 EST 1994

In article <1994Mar6.011604.25305 at>, wbezner at TrentU.CA writes:
> Greetings:
> I am currently gathering information for an undergraduate soil science 
> paper.   The assignment is as follows:
>	"In many tropical countries intense land use pressure has led to 
>        agricultural development of very steeply sloping land. Discuss 
>        the precise soil management problems which this causes, 
>        and examine potential conservation techniques and strategies,
>        with particular attention to the information necessary to make
>        these successful."   
> 	If any of you could supply me with any data, sources,
>        published material experiences or insights, it would be appreciated.
>        Thankyou,
> 	 Wayne Bezner Kerr
> 	 E-Mail Wbezner at TrentU.Ca
I am not an agro. scientist and have experience only in Belize, Guatemala
and southern Mexico.  However, both today and in prehistory, tropical soils
have presented formidible problems to agriculturalists.  Of course, tropical
soils are typically thin, and nutrient poor, as most of the nutrient pool is
tied up in primary biomass.  In central america, even in the reletively flat
Yucatan Penninsula, there is a fair amount of rugged local topography due to 
the Karstic landscape.  

Farming takes place today in many areas in the form of milpa plots, using 
slash and burn techniques.  this is not an intensive, but rather an extensive
 practice. slopes cleared in this way are very susceptable to erosion, and all
land used in this way are doomed to soil exhaustion and diminishing returns.

In prehistory, terracing was extensivly used to combat soil movement.  Such 
terracing is fairly common in the Rio Bec area of Quintanna Roo, Central
Belize, and other areas.

Andean agro. systems are probably the best example of terracing, and the
mountain chain itself is named after the terracing there  (Andenes).

Dr. Paul Healy is in your anthro. dept. and has worked extensively with
exactly these kind of systems in central Belize.  A short visit with him
will provide you with more than enough material for your paper.  Give
him my regards if you do see him.......

Hope this helps,

Dan Potter

Daniel Potter                  Texas Archeological Research Laboratory  
Dpotter at       University of Texas at Austin

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