Cover Crops in Smallholder Agriculture
Lessons learned in Latin America is about the use and dissemination of cover crops in different agreoecosystems need to be made more widely available not only to Spanish speaking, but also Anglophone regions. This publication aims to inform a wide range of actors involved in rural development projects, as well as those in applied research, about the potential of cover crops as components of low external input agricultural (LEIA) systems. Cover crops are, or have the potential to be, an important component in complex, diverse, risk-prone and resource-poor farming situations. The publication includes selected case studies from four different countries in Latin America. These address key issues regarding crop cover integration in LEIA systems. A wide range of agroecosystems are covered by the case studies, so that the information can be adapted for use in other regions. The key issues covered by the case studies are the following: Cover crops in annual cropping systems (Honduras); Cover crops in perennial crops (Bolivia); Role of cover crops in animal husbandry (Mexico); cover crop systems - soil improvement and conservation (Honduras); Alternatives to slash-and-burn (Mexico); Diffusion aspects of cover crop based systems; Applied research activities for agricultural systems improvement (Bolivia); and Action research with campesino farmers in South-east Mexico. However, the different aspects of cover crops cannot be treated separately from each other. The cross-cutting nature of the different aspects of cover crops becomes obvious from the case studies themselves, and the treatment highlights potential applications in other contexts.
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