The Philippines has a land area of only 30 million hectares. Its croplands, its most important life-support system, is only 10 million hectares, or 33% of the total land area.
Compounding the area limitation is the fact that these croplands have been traditionally monocropped with rice, corn, sugarcane, and coconut. Over time, continuous monocropping seems to bring forth more havoc than benefits.
The 7,200-island archipelago is about 60% upland, hence erosion-prone. It is already almost 60% eroded. The country is losing its soil at the rate of over 150 mt/ha per year (DENR, 1988).
The general lifescape in the Philippine upland is still that of debilitating want and poverty. But the sloping landscape is crucial to the Filipinos' future survival, as pointed out by Sajise (1984):
- "The upland is the ecological and social frontier where the battle for future survival of the Filipino society will be fought. What happens beyond public scrutiny will affect the lowland: flood, drought, erosion, disturbances of peace and order. It is a void where ecological battles are fought to fill empty stomachs and innocent minds. We must help fight this battle not because of any ideology or creed but primarily because we must assure the survival of the coming generation of the Filipinos. Let us not assign this responsibility to future generation of the Filipinos or look around for somebody whom we should blame for these mistakes when we ourselves can do something about it."
Sajise (1993) contended further that to fight this battle demands integrated strategies that are biologically stable, technically feasible, socially acceptable and satisfying to the farm households.
Sevilla (1983) observed that a number of efforts have been made to better the living conditions of sloping land farmers through education, focusing particularly on marginal areas urgently needing such measures as forest conservation and agroforestry.
The integrated schemes, also called mixed farming systems, are the backbone of Asian agriculture, basically of slopeland farming. Devendra (1995) underscored that the relevance and potential importance of integrated systems is associated with the complementarity of the crop and animal systems resulting in increased total productivity.
This is so because synergetic interactions have a greater total effect than the sum of the individual effects (Edwards et al, 1984). Thus, ecological and economic sustainability is achieved when the natural biodiversity of land, crops, animals and water are used to reinforce each other (Devendra, 1995).
Salt: Upland Sustainability in Integrated Biodiversity
In early 1970s the Philippines was already wantonly deforesting its landscape at the rate of almost 200,000 hectares per year. Monocropped kaingin (swidden farming) was widespread. Lowland migrants plowed deep and downhill the sloping lands, much as they had done in the lowlands.
Immediate and also integrated consequences were diminishing plant and animal diversity, a decreasing water and fuel supply, soil erosion, river siltation, and shoreline sedimentation. Crop yields declined to unprofitable levels. In most areas, in a span of only 6-8 years, corn production slid down from 5.0 mt/ha to a measly 0.5 mt/ha.
SALT as an integrated farming system was pioneered by the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) in the late 1970s to help arrest the alarming devastation of the island's sloping land. As a mixed farming scheme, SALT has four interrelated objectives (Watson and Laquihon, 1985).
- To minimize soil erosion,
- To restore soil fertility,
- To produce food sustainably, and
- To generate regular and adequate income.
The SALT's first two objectives on land protection and stabilization are being achieved through the "screening and greening" effects of the twin hedgerows of multipurpose woody legumes planted very densely on slopeland contours spaced at 3-4 meters apart. The fast coppicing tree-type legumes which occupy 25% of the farm area, have a herbage yield of about 25-30 mt/ha per year, which is perfect for mulching and green manuring.
The SALT's objectives on better land productivity are being accomplished by growing farmer-preferred high-value crops. Occupying 75% of the farm space, the crops are grown on the strips between the double hedgerows at a proportion of 2/3 annuals and 1/3 perennials. This "biodiversified" scheme aims at meeting both immediate and long-term needs of the slopeland household for food, wood, fuel, feed, and cash income.
Salt: Its Variants and Components of Integration
Anytime, anywhere there is no such thing as technology suitable for all farmers. This is because specific location, climate, and hosts of socio-cultural and economic factors determine a farming variant in a situation.
As an integrated system, Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (now known as SALT 1) has four variations. Slopeland farmers can choose, adopt, or adapt the kind that suits his situation. He can even further integrate or recombine all the five SALT variants into his sloping land. The other SALTs are:
- SALT - 2 (Simple Agro-Livestock Technology). In this scheme, half of the farm is occupied by the forage garden and the livestock barn. The other half is for 2/3 field crops, which are mostly perennials, and 1/3 contour hedgerows interspersed throughout the farm, very akin to SALT-1.
- SALT - 3 (Sustainable Agroforest Land Technology). Also popularly called as the "food-wood" integrated system, the upper half of the slopeland is for timber crops of short, medium, and long-term harvest periods. The lower half is planted with food crops and woody legumes, following the SALT-1 pattern.
- SALT - 4 (Small Agrofruit Livelihood Technology). Here 3/4 of the slopeland is multi-storied with high-value fruit trees. The lower 1/4 is for annuals. The whole farm is interspersed with woody legumes or nitrogen-fixing multipurpose tree species (NF/MPTS) as hedgerows along contours, as in SALT-1.
- "SUPER" SALT (Sloping Agricultural Land Technology). This newest variant integrates the elements of the so-called "modern" farming, such as high yielding varieties (HYVs), commercial fertilizers, pesticides, and appropriate farm equipment into the SALT-2 (Simple Agro-Livestock Technology). Also spatial arrangement of crops and their corresponding volume have been improved. Only purebred and high milk producer does are used as breeding stock. In a sense, Super SALT is a very amplified version of SALT-2, thus the adjective "super."
The following section will focus on Super SALT, a 3-year old soil conservation-based variant on crop-livestock integration.
The Technology for Crop-Livestock Integration
Some Technological Considerations
As crop-livestock integrated systems, SALT-2 and Super SALT are basically the same. They share the same objectives and considerations. The country does not have a dairy industry to provide enough milk for her people. Thus, the Philippines imports milk to the tune of about 1,700 metric tons per year, valued at about US$ 260 million.
Dairy goats have the potential to help develop the milk industry. Being small animals, milk goats easily fit into the resource capabilities of small-scale slopeland farmers. Profitable milk production from goats can be achieved with locally affordable feeds. Cheap feeds in the form of high and quality protein from nitrogen-fixing trees and shrubs can greatly help the feed gap.
Nitrogen-fixing trees and shrubs as contour hedgerows are generally the protective and ameliorative components of SALTs. As forage, they provide an added greater role becoming a productive or economic component in SALT-2 and in SUPER SALT.
The General Ten Steps of the Technology
Locate and develop the contour lines
First, locate the contour lines using an A-frame which is made of a carpenter's level and three wooden or bamboo poles. In finding the contour lines, plant one leg of the A-frame on the ground, then swing the leg until the carpenter's level shows that both legs are touching the ground on the same level. Repeat the same level-finding process with stakes every 5-meter distance along the way until one complete contour line is laid out, and until the whole farm is covered. Each contour line is spaced 3-4 meters apart.
Establish the hedgerows
Cultivate the contour lines thoroughly, forming raised beds, 1 meter wide. Make 2 furrows, 1/2 meter apart, on each contour line. Plant thickly the nitrogen-fixing trees and shrubs in the furrows. In addition, plant them at the uppermost part and along the borders of the farm. Examples of hedgerows species are Flemingia macrophylla, Desmodium rensonii, Leucaena leucocephala, L. diversifolia, Gliricidia sepium, and Calliandra calothyrsus.
Plant food and cash crops
Grow food and cash crops on the upper half portion of the farm so that soil loosened by cultivation is caught at the lower half portion by the forage crops. To avoid further disturbance of the soil, plant 3/4 of the agricultural area to long-term crops and the remaining 1/4 to short-term crops.
Develop the forage garden
Plant the other half of the area to forage crops. This should be established 6-8 months before bringing in the goats. Plant only palatable, high-protein, fast-coppicing and high-yielding forage crops. A suggested composition of forage crops is 50% Desmodium rensonii, 25% Flemingia congesta, 20% Gliricidia sepium, and 5% grasses such as Napier.
Build the goat barn
Construct the goat barn at the middle of the farm between the boundary of the "forage garden" and agricultural area. This will save time and labor in hauling manure out to the farm and in carrying forage to the goats. Provide floor space of 20-25 square feet per goat using local materials. For convenient removal of manure, raise the floor 4 feet above the ground with floor slats nailed 1/2 inch apart.
Bring in the breeding stock at the right time
Do this only when the forage garden has been fully established and is already capable of supplying sufficient forage to the goats. Bring in the goats 6-8 months after planting the forage crops. A good stocking rate is 1 buck: 12 does/0.5 ha.
Give the goats sufficient feed
Dairy goats essentially need concentrates (high-energy feeds) aside from the forage (high-fiber feeds). Give them feeds in the morning and in the afternoon. A good concentrate consists of 18% first class rice bran, 23 % corn grain or rice middling, 21% copra meal, 36% Leucaena leaf meal, 1% salt, and 1% limestone. A good forage is a mixture of 55% Desmodium rensonii, 20% Flemingia macrophylla, 20% Gliricidia sepium, and 5% Leucaena leucocephala. Also, provide the goats with salt and plenty of water every day.
Breed the goats on time
A doe should not be bred until she weighs 45-50 kg or she is 10-12 months old. Breed the doe in the second day of the heat period. If the doe is not pregnant after being bred over three periods, she should be culled, or placed under close observation if she is a valuable breeding animal.
Sell milk and other farm products immediately
Milking, which is done daily, should have a definite procedure and time. A slight change in the routine of feeding and milking will reduce the yield. Pasteurize the milk first (at 74 degrees Celsius about 30 seconds) before selling it. Do not delay marketing your other farm products. The kids of the goats can be marketed at the age of 10-12 months or when they weigh 35-55 kg.
Maintain the farm
Cut the hedgerows half to one-meter from the ground when they start to shade the field crops. Replant missing hills of the hedgerows, weed and clean the crops, and spray with chemicals only if necessary. Rotate the non-permanent crops.
The Super Salt Model
The area was formerly the site of the side-by-side comparison of the SALT and non-SALT systems. After 6 years of testing, it was found that the non-SALT plots were no longer productive, while the SALT plots were still sustainably productive. To restore the fertility of the non-SALT plots, leguminous crops were planted on the area using Mimosa invisa and Velvet bean. Goat manure and left-over forage from the goat barn was also applied. After four months, the fertility of the area was regained and then "Super" SALT was established.
The model was started on March 15,1994 with an area of 0.5 hectare. The upper 75% of the area was contoured at a distance of 2 m and planted with double rows of nitrogen-fixing trees and shrubs. The two- meter spacing was used with the plan of using the biomass as forage for goats. In between strips, banana, calamansi (a small juicy lime, Citrus mitis var. microcarpa) and coffee were planted. A goat barn with existing 5 does at the lower left of the farm was absorbed as component of the system. The lower 25% of the area was contoured at a distance of 3 to 4 meters and planted in double rows of nitrogen-fixing trees and shrubs. Strips were alternately planted with sweet corn and red beans. Crops were fertilized with 14-14-14 and 46-0-0 chemical fertilizer, in addition to goat manure and biomass from the hedgerows. Chemical sprayings were done when needed.
Other Crop-Livestock Modalities: The Midas Case
The Mountain Integrated Development and Stewardship (MIDAS) is a crop-livestock integrated farming scheme on two hectares of sloping land. It aims to conserve and rejuvenate the soil and make the land sustainably productive. The MIDAS strategies are regeneration of the indigenous species on the farm, plus the integration of SALT technology (Laquihon 1996).
Specifically, as a crop-livestock mixed system, MIDAS has forest, fuelwood, fruit and field crops. A 15-head dairy goat herd is its livestock component. The once totally deforested and eroded mountainside is now over 95% vegetatively covered. Nitrogen fixing shrubs on slopeland contours have adequately protected and amended the soil. Except for the path up the mountainside, there is now no erosion at the MIDAS site. Because of a family vision, mission and hardwork, in a matter of about six years, their slopeland farm has been healed and redeemed toward better productivity.
Benefits and Opportunities in Crop-Livestock Integrated Systems
The long-term studies of SALT-1 by MBRLC indicate the sustainability of slopeland integrated farming system (Palmer,1991; Laquihon, 1994):
- " Soil erosion under SALT system was 3.4 MT/ha per year compared to 194.3 MT/ha per year on non-SALT system. This is almost 60 times less erosion in SALT, hence the system is indeed very effective in conserving the precious topsoil.
- Crop productivity improved over the years (4.9 MT/ha in 1985 to 5.7 MT/ha in 1990) in SALT system whereas in the non-SALT system, it decreased (4.7 MT/ha in 1985 to 2.1 MT/ha in 1990). While the net income in SALT in the first year was less than half of that in the non-SALT (P10,000 as against P22,000 in 1985), the overall trend was an increase in the SALT income from P18,000 in 1986 to P23,000 in 1990 and a decrease in the non-SALT (P21,000 in 1986 to P7,500 in 1990). Therefore, SALT does not only triple productivity and income, but more importantly, it sustains them.
- The mean annual labor input for SALT (250 MD/ha) was slightly lower than non-SALT (260 MD/ha) over the six years. Therefore the assumption that SALT being a hedgerow variant of agroforestry is more laborious has no basis at all.
- In soil properties the changes between the two systems were not pronounced. It probably takes more than six years for the change to be significant. However in the SALT system higher percentage of ground cover, greater earthworm activities, greater soil infiltration rates, more resistance against soil surface runoff, and a greater percolation rate were observed compared to the non- SALT system."
The economic feasibility of SALT-2 (Simple Agro- Livestock Technology) is also rewarding (Table 1). The mean return on investment is an encouraging 38.42%, and mean annual income is $1,690.0 per 1/2 hectare. This is 14 times higher compared to the mean annual income in the Philippine upland which is only $ 120 per 1/2 hectare.
The mean annual income from super SALT also almost doubles that of SALT-2, and is 26 times higher than the Philippine upland mean income (Table 2). The Super SALT mean annual income is an inspiring $3,125 .85 per 1/2 hectare!
The livestock component provided 87.86% of the total net income (from sale of milk and stock), with 12.14% coming from the crop components (Table 3 and Fig. 1). The crops planted were sweet corn, banana and calamansi. Of the total income, from crops, sweet corn contributed 76.8%, banana, 17.9% and calamansi, 5.3% (Fig. 2 and Fig. 3).
On the other hand, the income from field crops increased dramatically by 5 times in MIDAS, from P300/ha per month to P1,774.25. Integrating dairy goats further enhanced farm profitability. Increasing by 10 times, the farm net income was P3,000/ha per month with a return on investment of 80% (Table 4 and Table 5). Furthermore, various products from the regenerated indigenous species are sufficiently available to a slopeland household (Laquihon 1996).
Conclusion, Implications and Recommendations
In a capsule, the already very substantial findings succinctly suggest that economic and ecological sustainability in slopeland areas is not at all an 'elusive dream'. Integrated crop-livestock farming, such as SALT 2, MIDAS and other modalities, can greatly help sustainable upland development become a reality.
Fighting poverty and hunger in a country starts in the upland. The case also simply implies that the battle against slopeland degradation, while not easy, can be won. For as the developers of SALT stressed (Watson and Laquihon, 1985):
- " There is not and never will be one system for all farmers. SALT is not a miracle system or a panacea. To establish a one-hectare SALT requires much hard work and discipline. It took many years to deplete the soil of nutrients and lose the topsoil; no system can bring depleted, eroded soils back into production in a few years. The price of soil loss is poverty, but we have seen land restored to a reasonable level of productivity by using SALT."
- 1. Sustainable sloping land use hinges on these major components: protection, amelioration, and production. Screen, verify, and promote more farming systems that are strong in these components.
- 2. Come up with more models that focus on 'leguminization and perennia-lization' and integration of livestock in the farm.
- 3. Can the SALT-type projects be regionally institutionalized for training and continuing non-formal education on slopeland farming in Asia?
- 4. Advocate laws that require conservation measures in all sloping lands. Is it possible that, as in the case of the Philippine Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), no land title should be given to a sloping land farmer until he can SALT his farm?
- Devendra C. 1995. Mixed farming and intensification of animal production systems in Asia. In: Proceedings of the Joint FAO/ILRI Roundtable on Livestock Development Strategies for Low Income Countries, Wilson, RT., Ehui S. And Macs S. (eds). Food and Agriculture Organization/International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya:
- Edwards P. PJV Pullin, and J. A. Gartner. 1988. Research and Education for the Development of Crop-Livestock-Fish Farming System in the Tropics. Studies and Reviews, No. 16. International Centre for Land Use and Resource Management, Manila, Philippines.
- Laquihon, D.S. 1993. Performance of Dairy Goats Fed with Homemade Concentrate and Fodder Tree Legumes. B.Sc. Thesis, University of Southern Mindanao, Kabacan, Cotabato, Philippines.
- Laquihon, J.S. 1994. Performance of Dairy Goats Fed with Homemade Concentrate of Different Crude Protein Levels and Desmodium (Desmodium rensonii) as Main Fodder. B.Sc. Thesis, University of Southern Mindanao, Kabacan, Cotabato, Philippines.
- Laquihon, G. A. 1994. NPK Requirements of Corn on a 10-year old Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT) Established Area of MBRLC. M.Sc. Thesis, University of Southern Mindanao, Kabacan, Cotabato, Philippines.
- Laquihon, W. A. 1987. Determinants of Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT) Adoption in the Philippines. Ph.D. Thesis. Ateneo de Davao-University of Mindanao, Davao City, Philippines.
- Laquihon, W.A., D.S. Laquihon, and J.S. Laquihon 1996. Performance of dairy goats fed with concentrate and forage legumes in Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT) farm. In: Proceeding of the FFTC IDA/ARLDF-Joint International Seminar Workshop on Sustainable Crop-Livestock Integration in Sloping Lands in Asia, held in Davao City, Philippines. September 3-5, 1996.
- Palmer, J.J. 1991. The Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT) experience. Paper presented at the Sloping Agricultural Land Technology Workshop, Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India.
- Sajise, P. E. 1983. Upland farming system. Paper presented at the National Conference on Research in the Uplands, Bureau of Forest Development Working Group,11-13 April.
- Sajise, P. E. and E. P. Pacardo. 1984. Agroforestry Research: The UPLB Program on Environmental Science and Management, Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines.
- Sevilla, J. C. 1983. Indicators of upland poverty: The micro-view. Paper presented at the National Conference on Research in the Uplands. Bureau of Forest Development Working Group,11-13 April.
- Vergara, N. T. 1985. Agroforestry: Issues, snags, strategies. Tropical Forests 2,1:5.
- Watson, H.R. and W. A. Laquihon 1985. Sloping Agricultural Land Technology SALT) as developed by the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center. Paper presented at the Workshop on Site Protection and Amelioration, Institute of Forest Conservation, UPLB, Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines.
Index of Images
Figure 1 The Super Salt Net Income Vis-a-Vis Expenses and Gross Income
Figure 2 Super Salt Net Income Compared
Figure 3 Super Salt Major Crop Earners
Table 1 Cost and Return Analysis of Salt-2 Project (0.5 Ha), MBRLC, Kinuskusan, Bansalan, Davao Del Sur, Philippines.
Table 2 Gross Income, Expenses and Net Income of Super Salt (0.5 Ha), 1994-96.
Table 3 Net Income from Livestock and Crop Components, Super Salt (0.5 Ha).
Table 4 Cost and Return Analysis of the Performance of Dairy Goats Fed with Home-Made Concentrates and Fodder Legumes, Midas
Table 5 Cost and Return Analysis of Dairy Goats Fed with Home-Made Concentrates of Different Crude Protein Levels and Desmodium (Desmodium Rensonii) As Main Fodder, Midas, 1994. (Unit: Us$)
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