Promotie

Anthropogenic soils in central Amazonia: farmers' practices, agrobiodiversity and land-use patterns

Summary

Terra Preta are soils created by indigenous people who lived in Amazonia between 2,500 and 500 years ago. Differently from surrounding soils, patches of Terra Preta are very fertile, and today they are used by local people in many different ways. In my PhD., I have looked at how farmers in Central Amazonia have incorporated these soils into their agricultural and agroforestry systems. I found out that farmers have developed specific knowledge, practices and crop combinations suited to different soils. As Terra Preta provide additional opportunities their presence results in a larger diversity of cultivation strategies, crops and other species at the landscape level. These results improve our understanding of the relationship between people, soils, crops and agroforestry species, and bring useful insights for the development of more sustainable agriculture in tropical regions.