|Steep deforested hillsides demonstrate the need for soil protection|
- Prioritize the purchase of soil testing kits and promote community education on proper nutrient management: Nearly all farmers apply fertilizers at least once per crop cycle with little to no soil testing occurring. While soil testing laboratories exist in the DR, the average farmer is not using this practice as a management tool and are unaware of the potential savings they may have from simply testing the soil and applying fertilizer based on needs of the soil and plant. In many cases the soil test will reveal less fertilizer is needed than what is typically applied.
- Use contour and ridge farming methods: Over 60% of the cropland in Jimenoa is over 30% slope and it is common to see crops planted on slopes in excess of 45%. The extent of deforestation and degradation in the Baiguate sub-watershed appears to be the most severe, with slopes up to 70% being extensively farmed. In some regions, farmers use horses and oxen to plow the land on the contour that create ridges and furrows. These ridges and furrows placed on the contour help curb erosion and slow runoff. According to the USDA’s Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) ridges and furrows planted on the contour can reduce soil erosion by 75% over planting a crop up and down the hill. Farmers who have not adopted this practice should be assisted to do so.
- Use local grasses or legumes for ground cover: Some local options are vetiver, perennial peanut, carpet grass, and other low growing grasses for tajota fields.
Newly planted tajota approximately 4'' above the ground with limited ground cover below
Use filter strips or vegetative barriers: For vegetable or tajota crop production, the cropland should have 30-40 meters of crops followed by 3-5 meters of grass, and so on down the hill.Only 5-10% of the cropland needs to be devoted to the filter strips or vegetative barriers, and plant species capable of filtering and catching sediments should be used. In order to be effective, this practice needs to be in conjunction with contour and ridge farming methods.
|Example of 10-inch grass filter strip on 12% slope|