Slash-and-Burn Agriculture
/slaSH/ – /and/ – /bərn/ /ˈaɡrəˌkəlCHər/  – noun

August 28th, 2019

Definition: A commonly used agricultural practice in which wild or forested land is clear cut and any remaining vegetation is burned to make room for farmer-planted crops.

Did you know? The resulting ash from the fires provides a somewhat nutrient-rich layer of matter that can benefit the crops planted within the next two or three years.

The problem: This layer of nutrients only lasts for a few seasons. After those nutrients are used up the farmer is left with nutrient-scarce, degraded land that is no longer usable. Farmers then abandon the land and move on to another forested area and continue the slash-and-burn process. This creates a cycle of deforestation and degrading soils for short-lived benefits. Additionally, fires can easily burn out of control, destroying much more vegetation than originally intended.

In the Forest Garden: Trees for the Future does not endorse slash-and-burn agriculture. Permaculture and agroforestry have proven to provide far more nutrients than the short-lived burst of nutrients created by burning. By working with the land instead of against it, Forest Garden farmers are able to benefit from trees and native biomass.

In the World: Slash-and-burn tactics are the reason for so many fires burning in the Amazon today. Keep an eye out on TREES’ social media channels for an in-depth look at these practices and alternative solutions.