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Friday, April 01, 2005

A Sustainable Upland Farming System for Indonesia

Resume of Paper: A Sustainable Upland Farming System for Indonesia (Sri Adiningsih and A. Syarifuddin Karama, (Center for Soil and Agroclimate Research, Indonesia)

Farmers dependent on upland agriculture represent approximately 70% of the total farm population of Indonesia. The most common problems encountered in upland farming are erosion and water shortage, low soil fertility and productivity, and lack of sufficient production factor such as good seeds and credits. The Farming system research to test package of technology of upland agriculture has been conducted, which generally contains five component such as: soil and water conservation and management; cropping system (food crops, fodder); tree crops; livestock; and an economic evaluation. Also Inland fisheries are another important component in some areas. A combination of annual and perennial crops is very important part in this research approach. Output of the farming system research in some upland area in Indonesia discussed as follows.

Dealing with soil fertility management, in this substance nutrient management, soil acidity and liming and management of organic matter is an important part. Phosphorus deficiency followed by potassium deficiency is the main problem encountered in upland farming. The application of organic matter is important to increases the efficiency of applied chemical fertilizer. Soil acidity also a major constrain, and lime can be used to overcome this constraint. Upland crop rotation systems should consider lime application for the most sensitive crops. The addition and management of organic matter improves the growth environment of the plants. Organic matter also acts as a biological buffer to maintain a balanced supply of available nutrients for the plant roots. The cultivation of fast growing legume trees as a hedgerow or as an alley crop are effective in increasing soil organic matter and help control erosion.

The most appropriate methods of controlling erosion and improving soil physical properties as shown in many part of upland farming system research are:

  1. Mulching with cut branches of legume tree, grown in a hedgerow or as an alley crop, in combination with minimum tillage on flat and sloping terrain, gives much better result than full tillage without mulching.
  2. Contour strip using a combination of grass and legumes control erosion more effectively than strips planted in grass alone.
  3. Bench terraces or raised bed terraces edge with grass and protected by mulch of cut grass or cut legume leaves and branches were effectively in controlling erosion.
  4. High inputs in combination with mulching effectively reduce run-off and soil loss.

Among the cropping system tested, a combination of cereals and legumes proved to be the best. This type of system gave good yields in terms of calories, protein, cash income and crop residue. An integrated farming system based on the maximum utilization of land resources and solar radiation also very important system for upland area. In this system different type of tree are planted in sequence, to avoid shading and to maximize the utilization of solar radiation. Livestock is very important component in an integrated farming system to recycling organic matter and also represent capital investment, and an additional source of income and draft power for the farmer.

In the social economic analysis, food crops are key component in the upland farming. Adoption of a high level of input depends on the cost-benefit ratio and market opportunities. Economic analysis indicated that terracing increases net benefit by more than five times, compare to the control treatment. The selection of tree crops depends on the land potential, farmer preferences, and marketing prospect for the product. At last subsidies and credit are needed at the early stages, especially for conservation practices.