Milpa Agriculture

Published: | Updated: January 22, 2017

Definition - What does Milpa Agriculture mean?

Milpa agriculture is a traditional farming system practiced in Mesoamerica, particularly Mexico. The ‘three sisters,’ namely, maize, squash and beans are planted on the land for two successive years, and thereafter, the soil is allowed eight years to lie fallow to recover its fertility naturally. Although this system allows for high yields and organic agricultural practices, it would become unsustainable if the fallow period were to be reduced.

Safeopedia explains Milpa Agriculture

Milpa agriculture is a form of the traditional ‘slash and burn’ agriculture. The natural vegetation is cut and then let to dry out before it is burned. The ash is then incorporated into the soil as fertilizer. Beans and maize are planted together with squash being cultivated between the rows. At harvest, most of the maize is allowed to dry on the plant to be ground into cornflower later on.

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