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Carbon, water and nutrient flux in Maya homegardens in the Yucatán peninsula of México

by Benjamín, T.J; Montañez, P.I; Jiménez, J.J.M; Gillespie, A.R.
Publisher: 2001ISSN: 0167-4366.Subject(s): HUERTOS FAMILIARES | SISTEMAS DE EXPLOTACION | CARBONO | AGUA | HOJARASCA | NUTRIENTES MINERALES | CICLO BIOGEOQUIMICO | DISPONIBILIDAD DE NUTRIENTES | FIJACION DEL NITROGENO | FOTOSINTESIS | PRODUCTIVIDAD | BIOMASA | MEXICO | DOMESTIC GARDENS | FARMING SYSTEMS | CARBON | WATER | PLANT LITTER | MINERAL NUTRIENTS | CYCLING | NUTRIENT AVAILABILITY | NITROGEN FIXATION | PHOTOSYNTHESIS | PRODUCTIVITY | BIOMASS | MEXICO | JARDIN FAMILIAL | SYSTEME D'EXPLOITATION AGRICOLE | CARBONE | EAU | LITIERE VEGETALE | SUBSTANCE NUTRITIVE MINERALE | CYCLE BIOGEOCHIMIQUE | DISPONIBILITE D'ELEMENT NUTRITIF | FIXATION DE L'AZOTE | PHOTOSYNTHESE | PRODUCTIVITE | BIOMASSE | MEXIQUE | PENINSULA DE YUCATAN In: Agroforestry Systems (Países Bajos) v. 53(1) p. 103-111Summary: The Yucatán Peninsula of México has shallow soils and receives low amounts of precipitation, and has therefore low agricultural potential. Lacking large-scale irrigation from rivers and adequate rainfall, the indigenous Maya groups maintain agricultural productivity by adapting a variety of practices. Multistrata homegardens, one of their agricultural systems, have provided goods for trade, sale and personal consumption for many centuries. Nevertheless, an understanding of the controlling biological factors and interactions within these systems can lead to yield improvements. Photosynthetic rates, water use and litter production for a variety of species have been studied in these gardens to determine how Maya management impacts resource flow, productivity and diversity. When irrigated, diurnal photosynthetic rates nearly doubled for Manilkara zapota and water use increased two fold for M. zapota and Cordia dodecandra. Total litter production in traditional homegardens varied from 1,000 to 4,000 kg ha-1 yr-1 and ten arboreal species were found to contribute more than 33 percent of total litterfall biomass. Nutrient concentrations in the leaves of the predominant species were analyzed; Meliococcus bijugatus and Spondias purpurea were found to contribute the largest quantities of N, P and C. Our research indicates that species and structural diversity are critical to sustainability of homegardens, allowing efficient use and transfer of carbon, nutrients and water.
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The Yucatán Peninsula of México has shallow soils and receives low amounts of precipitation, and has therefore low agricultural potential. Lacking large-scale irrigation from rivers and adequate rainfall, the indigenous Maya groups maintain agricultural productivity by adapting a variety of practices. Multistrata homegardens, one of their agricultural systems, have provided goods for trade, sale and personal consumption for many centuries. Nevertheless, an understanding of the controlling biological factors and interactions within these systems can lead to yield improvements. Photosynthetic rates, water use and litter production for a variety of species have been studied in these gardens to determine how Maya management impacts resource flow, productivity and diversity. When irrigated, diurnal photosynthetic rates nearly doubled for Manilkara zapota and water use increased two fold for M. zapota and Cordia dodecandra. Total litter production in traditional homegardens varied from 1,000 to 4,000 kg ha-1 yr-1 and ten arboreal species were found to contribute more than 33 percent of total litterfall biomass. Nutrient concentrations in the leaves of the predominant species were analyzed; Meliococcus bijugatus and Spondias purpurea were found to contribute the largest quantities of N, P and C. Our research indicates that species and structural diversity are critical to sustainability of homegardens, allowing efficient use and transfer of carbon, nutrients and water.

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