Shade Tolerance. Here the term shade is used loosely. The actual Mandarin citrus trees found in Farrm 03, Cadu, Ilagan, Isablea are wide apart enough in an East to West orientation (evident from the observed shadows during the early morning (between 7-9 am) site visit. As the day progresses, sunlight would filter through the gaps in-between trees in each column.
Also, since there is just one column of trees with wide span of open space between columns, diffused light would come also in North and South side. In effect, the shade tolerant plants that can grow between trees, the variety of plans that could be grown in-between the trees within each column would be much wider than the understory shade-loving plants that normally grow in a multi-story tropical rainforest.
El Niño. The images shown here were taken during the height of summer 2014, when there was a threat of El Niño. Indeed, the temperature was very high during our first visit to the farm that it was difficult to be exposed to the sun for more than an hour. The photos shown were taken early but had to stop by 9am. It was so hot that even weeds had a hard time growing.
Weed growth and control. Before the end of my visit to the Philippines in September 2014, while the rain was scarce compared to normal years without an El Niño, there was sufficient moisture that led to profuse growth of weeds covering all spaces in the farm. [We were pressed for time, and did not have a chance to take photos of the dramatic change in vegetative cover.]
Many conventional agriculture educators and extension workers consider "weeds" to have a negative impact on crop cultivation. Thus, every manual and article on monoculture agriculture and agroforestry would include the "mantra" to eradicate weeds with a weed tiller, weedicides or a combination of both. The process weed eradication is very laborious and weedicides are expensive.
At times, the advise is impractical. How could one implement a massive weed control in reforestation (with more than 9 million hectares of denuded forest lands in the Philippines), when there is not even enough resources to produce the tree seedlings and pay the manpower needed for the tree planting itself?
Weed is nature's way to protect the land. Barren land is not natural. During the dry season, the lack of land cover and high temperature bake the soil and destroy the flora and fauna in the rhizosphere. Further, barren soil exposed to high temperature accelerates water evaporation especially during the summer season. During the rainy season, weeds covering the soil surface would mitigate soil erosion and flash flooding.
Indigenous weeds serve as nature's cover crops to mitigate the damage common in barren lands. Weeds as cover crop increases biodiversity, lower the soil temperature, increase water retention and mitigate moisture evaporation. Further, weeds when tilled under will serve as mulch and their slow decay would allow slow release of minerals and nutrients that are stored the weed plants.
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