News Archives: Alley cropping in Peru
By Jaime Leon Geldres | January 2006


In January 2006 a plan to establish an alley cropping centre in Peru was worked out, to include both a demo farm and seed bank. It was to be located in the Chanchamaya valley, one of the main valleys leading down to the Amazon Basin,  on land belonging to the University of La Molina.

The project was worked out between Dr. Terry Pennington and Mike Hands and Dr. Carlos Reynel Rodríguez of La Molina University, Peru, with the latter to be in overall charge, and  his former student Jaime León Geldres in charge of the day to day management. Dr. Carlos Reynel Rodríguez is one of Peru's leading tropical forest botanists.

The site is well placed and secure, and with people of this stature running it, we have the opportunity for a first-rate project.

The project would need to run for at least five years to begin with, with an estimated cost of  about $20,000 per annum to cover materials, labour and salaries.  The first couple of years have now been generously funded by The John Kyle Stone Charitable Trust.

So the project is well under way and by July the  Inga  nursery was prepared and seeds were collected from the three locations in the local area.

Sacos llenos de frutas de Inga edulis

Sacks full of Inga edulis fruits to be sowed in bags. Photo by Jaime León 2007. 

5000 seeds were sown in July.  By the end of August 95% had germinated and grown into healthy seedlings of 12 to 15 cm height.

Vivero Inga con plantitas

Inga nursery with seedlings. Photo by Jaime León 2007.


Inga sp seedling  “shimbillo” with its characteristics brown colour. Photo by Jaime León 2007. 

Plantitas Inga de 12 a 15 cm de altura

Inga seedlings 12 a 15 cm height. Photo by Jaime León 2007.


Due to the frequent rain during the  summer the Ingas have grown quickly. The next stage will be to clean the plots for planting out in September and then the seedlings can be finally planted out in October.

Progress in Peru up to April/May 2007

The plots have been weeded and cared for and the heights and diameters of the Inga trees in the three plots were measured at the end of May. Comparison with similar measurements in mid march shows considerable growth in all the plots.

The Inga feullei grew more than the rest because it was sown a month earlier than Inga sp and 2 months earlier than Inga Edulis in the rainy season and on better ground. Inga Edulis also grew well. In the same way Inga sp grows well in flat lands and smaller hillsides with a lot of humidity. Currently there is not much rain at the start of the summer.

Parcela Inga

Inga plot. Photo by León 2007. 

Work done up to the end of September involved caring for the seedlings in the nursery: watering, organising shade, weeding and pest control, One hectare plots (10,000 m2) were demarcated and cleared ready for future planting of the Inga trees.

There was little rain so the seedling trees had not grown much, but were otherwise healthy.

Limpia de la parcela No.2 de Chanchamayo Inga-Agroforestal  -- Perú

Clearing of the plot 2 of Agroforestal-Inga Chanchamayo – Perú project. Photo by Jaime León 2007. 

By the end of October winter had started in the area and it was the right weather for planting. The clearing of plot nº 1 was completed and 5000 holes were dug in it for planting. Seedlings of Inga feuillei were selected from the nursery and transported to the plot and 5000 were planted into their final postitions in the holes. They were 30 to 35 cm high at the time of planting, and the planting was 100% successful.

Vista de la siembra final de Inga feullei

View of the final planting of Inga feuillei in plot 1. Planted in level curves, 4 m between lines and 50cm separation between plants. Photo by Jaime León 2007. 

By the end of December 2006 plot no. 3 was cleared, 5000 holes were dug, Inga edulis seedlings were selected from the nursery, transported to the plot, and planted in the holes.  The time from germination to plantation was 90 days.  The seedlings were 35 to 40 cm high and healthy.

Inga sembrada en curves niveladas

Inga planted in level curves. Photo by León 2007.

So all three Inga species have been planted and from now on the plots will be looked after and the adaptability of the two coast species will be monitored.

In January soil was put round the base of the seedlings in plots 2 and 3, and plot no. 1 was weeded.

Seeds of Inga oerstediana and Inga marginata were collected and sown in small plots as samples.

 Filas de Inga feullei

Clearing in plot no.1 between rows of Inga feuillei. Photo by Jaime León 2007. 

By March plots 2 and 3 were weeded.  Samples of soil were taken from all three plots to be studied.

The heights and diameters of trees in all three plots were measured on 17th March.  For the Inga sp the heights ranged from 45 cm to 186 cm, and the diameters, taken 15 cm from the ground, ranged from 0.8 cm to 2.1 cm. For the Inga edulis heights ranged from 69 to 142 cm, and diameters, again taken 15 cm from the ground, ranged from 1.0 to 1.9 cm.  The heights of the Inga feuillei ranged from 110 to 360 cm, with diameters, this time taken 30 cm from the ground, ranged from 1 to 4 cm.

Measuring Inga edulis in plot no. 2

Measuring Inga edulis in plot no. 2. Photo by Jaime León 2007.

This project was started with Rainforest Saver in 2006,  supported by the John Kyle Stone Charitable Trust.