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Amazon deforestation could be slowed by planting bean trees that would keep soils fertile and help smallholders make a living.
Rainforest soils are usually low in nutrients, so land cleared for cattle grazing is typically used for just a few years before being abandoned.
Scheme - University - Exeter - Aims - Inga
But a scheme led by the University of Exeter aims to use Inga trees—a diverse group from the legume family which take nitrogen from the air and lock it in the soil—to keep land fertile for the long term.
This could help to maintain tree cover in the rainforest in the part of Brazil known as the Amazonian Arc of Deforestation.
Plan - Exeter - Projects - £615 - Grant
The plan is one of several Exeter projects boosted by a new £615,572 grant from UK Research and Innovation's (UKRI) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).
"Inga trees can grow in very poor soil and are widely used in agroforestry and silvopastoral systems (where trees are grown among either crops or land grazed by animals)," said Professor Toby Pennington, of the University of Exeter.
Land - Time - Smallholders - Pressure - Production
"At present, deforested land is either used for a short time before being abandoned, or smallholders come under pressure to sell it for the large-scale, intensive production of soy beans—with much of the soy crop sold to feed livestock in Europe.
"Our project could help smallholders resist these pressures by making their land more sustainable and profitable.
Land - Inga - Trees - Smallholders
"Land that has already been degraded and abandoned could be planted with Inga trees and used again by smallholders."
Professor Pennington added: "We want to encourage alternatives to the...
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