Agroforestry Conservation on Uplands

Most upland plots are very steep and sloped. It is necessary to use proper soil conservation techniques such as vegetative barriers for sustainability. This technique uses an array of plants: perennials and shrubs, fast-growing pea plants (such as acacia and hemp), or some narrow-leaved grass with multiple stems, (such as vetiver). These are planted in dense rows perpendicular to the slope so that the roots prevent soil from moving with the water. These barriers act to slow down the water movement and reduce its erosive force. Within the plots, between the rows spaced 4-10 meters in the fields, farmers can grow crops. The greater the slope of the fields, the narrower the plots between the rows will be.

Some species that are ideal for this environment are not easy to find and do not easily produce seed, such as the common bean basket plant. The same restrictions apply using level rows composed of legumes. Another obstacle to vegetative barriers is the time and labor required to maintain the plants in level rows, such as weeding and crop pruning.

Even still, the planting of legumes or vetiver grass is valuable, so the area is not wasted. Although these rows can be useful for production, they are even more valuable for soil conservation. However, these legumes and grasses (such as Napier grass) can be useful for the production of fresh leaves used to feed livestock during the rainy season.

Agroforestry is useful, as it provides shade for low-lying crops such as legumes, while also increasing food yields of other taller crops such as papaya, pineapple, rattan, jasmine, and tea. A lot of these plants are valuable for the local farmer and easy to maintain. There are two benefits: soil conservation and produce that can be eaten or sold. In order to conserve the soil, local grasses, such as broom grass, are grown in between. These flowering grasses are preferred for level row planting by the villagers to collect for sale to the broom factory and to conserve soil.

Overall, the narrow-leaved grasses and perennial legumes work best to preserve the topsoil, especially on the steepest slopes. Farmers will use these vegetative barriers and diverse crop rows to increase production of food resources in one plot.