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Substitution of Slash-And-Burn techniques in the tropics by application of a newly developed bushchopper

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  031017,  2003 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.13706) @2003
Authors:   Andreas Block, Dieter von Horsten, Wolfgang Lucke
Keywords:   shifting cultivation, tropical agriculture, chopper, biomass, chipping, biomass harvester

In northeastern Brazil, Par State, shifting cultivation is still one of the most important small farmers land-use-systems. Traditionally, the system consists of a 2-year cropping period followed by a fallow period of several years. Land preparation prior to the cropping is done by burning the slashed fallow vegetation. Intensifying the land-use, but keeping the traditional agricultural practices leads to a decrease of the systems productivity. A key factor of this degradation is the nutrient loss due to slash burning. If, however, it was not burned, the biomass could contribute substantially to the management of the soil organic matter in order to improve the physical, chemical and biological properties of the soil. Accordingly, the Institute of Agricultural Engineering of the University of Gttingen developed a tractor-powered bush chopper to substitute the slash and burn practice by a fire-free land preparation system.The first prototype was tested in 1997 and proved the feasibility of the mechanized non-burning land preparation. In the first half of 2002 the second prototype was introduced and tested. For the application of the mulching technology having a positive income effect for the smallholders, it is broadly accepted throughout the research region. The research studies and the developing were carried out within the SHIFT- project, a German-Brazilian research program. The machine was particularly developed for the Brazilian field conditions. However, during the developing period a series of new fields of application for this type of machinery have arised such as landscape conservation or biomass harvesting for energy purposes.

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