Secondary Forests and Fallow Vegetation in the Agricultural Landscape of the Eastern Amazon Region, Brazil


Slash-and-burn, chop-and-mulch, fire-free land preparation, fallow enrichment, shifting cultivation, bush chopper, management of organic matter, mulch-based farming system, on-farm research


Brazil, Eastern Amazon


Ad hoc the management techniques of the proposed mulch based systems should contribute:

  • to an improved use of the secondary vegetation as a source of organic matter and nutrients,
  • to the temporal maintenance or even shortening of the fallow period without affecting the regenerative function of the fallow.

In the long run they should contribute:

  • to avoid farmers' migration to new colonization frontiers, i.e. the primary forests,
  • to avoid migrations to the outskirts of the cities, to contribute to the sustainable development of the agricultural sector of the northeast of the state of Pará.

3-phased approach:

  1. Exploratory phase to study strengths and weaknesses of the traditional shifting cultivation system of the eastern Amazon region and to identify points of improvement
  2. Solution oriented phase to develop alternative technologies a) replacing slash-burning by the fire-free alternative of chopping and mulching the fallow vegetation and b) improving the fallow by enrichment planting with fast-growing tree legumes
  3. Implementation oriented phase seeks to develop and assess implementation strategies aimed at the diffusion of the improvements by a multidisciplinary approach that includes natural sciences as well as social sciences and a participatory approach that includes farmers in the decision taking process.
Main Cooperation Partners

Main Funding Partners

German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)


Denich,M.; Block,A.; Lücke,W.; Vlek,P.L.G. (1998) A bush chopper for mulch production in fallow-based agriculture and resource conservation. In: Proceedings of the Third SHIFT-Workshop, Manaus, Brazil, Eds. Lieberei, Reinhard, Bianchi, Helmut, Voss, Karsten, Lieberei, Reinhard, Voss, Karsten, Bianchi, Helmut, Lieberei, Reinhard, Voss, Karsten, and Bianchi, Helmut. pp. 61-66

Denich,M.; Vlek,P.L.G.; Sá,T.D.d.A.; Vielhauer,K.; Lücke,W. (2002) A concept for the development of fire-free fallow management in the Eastern Amazon, Brazil. (submitted to Agricultural Ecosystems and Environment)

Denich,M.; Vlek,P.L.G.; Vielhauer,K.; Fölster,H. (1999) Potential und Dynamik der Kohlenstofffestlegung in traditionellen und modifizierten Brachesystemen des östlichen Amazonasgebiets. In: Tropentag: "Stabilisierung und nachhaltige Entwicklung land- und forstwirtschaftlicher Systeme in den Tropen", Göttingen, Germany 1998, Göttinger Beiträge zur Land- und Forstwirtschaft in den Tropen und Subtropen, 133, pp. 165-173

Denich,M.; Kanashiro,M.; Vlek,P.L.G. (2000) The potential and dynamics of carbon sequestration in traditional and modified fallow systems of the Eastern Amazon region, Brazil. In: Global Climate Change and Tropical Ecosystems, Eds. Lal, R., Kimble, J. M., and Stewart, B. A. Boca Raton - FL, USA, CRC Press, pp. 213-229

Eckelmann, J.; Denich, M. 2001. Research for the Rain Forest - Alternatives to slash-and-burn agriculture for small holders in Amazonia. Video documentation, 20 min., Eule Film, Quedlinburg.

Gehring,C.; Denich,M.; Kanashiro,M.; Vlek,P.L.G. (1999) Response of secondary vegetation in Eastern Amazonia to relaxed nutrient availability constraints. Biogeochemistry, 45, 3, pp. 223-241

Kato,M.d.S.A.; Kato,O.R.; Denich,M.; Vlek,P.L.G. (1999) Fire-free alternatives to slash-and-burn for shifting cultivation in the eastern Amazon region: The role of fertilizers. Field Crops Research, 62, pp. 225-237

Rodrigues,G.S.; Kitamura,P.C.; Sá,T.D.d.A.; Vielhauer,K. (2002) Sustainability assessment of slash-and-burn and fire-free agriculture in Northeastern Pará, Brazil. (ready for submission),

Sommer,R.; Denich,M.; Vlek,P.L.G. (2000) Carbon storage and root penetration in deep soils under small-farmer land-use systems in the eastern Amazon region, Brazil. KLUWER ACADEMIC PUBLISHERS, Plant and Soil, 219, 1/2, pp. 231-241

Sommer,R.; Sá,T.D.d.A.; Vielhauer,K.; Araújo,A.C.d.; Fölster,H.; Vlek,P.L.G. (30-4-2002) Transpiration and canopy conductance of secondary vegetation in the eastern Amazon. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 112, 2, pp. 103-121

Sommer,R.; Sá,T.D.d.A.; Vielhauer,K.; Pantoja,R.d.F.R.; Vlek,P.L.G. (2002) Nutrient balance of shifting cultivation with and without burning - evidence for subsoil nutrient accumulation. (submitted to Journal of Tropical Ecology)

Vielhauer,K.; Kanashiro,M.; Sá,T.D.d.A.; Denich,M. (1998) Technology development of slash-and-mulch and of fallow enrichment in shifting cultivation systems of the Eastern Amazon. In: Proceedings of the Third SHIFT-Workshop, Manaus, Brazil, Eds. Lieberei, Reinhard, Voss, Karsten, and Bianchi, Helmut. pp. 49-59

Vielhauer,K.; Denich,M.; Sá,T.D.d.A.; Kato,O.R.; Kato,M.d.S.A.; Brienza Jr.,S.; Vlek,P.L.G. (2001) Land-use in a mulch-based farming system of small holders in the Eastern Amazon. In: Proceedings of the Deutscher Tropentag (Conference on International Agricultural Research for Development) "One World: Research for a better quality of life", Bonn, Germany, Bonn, University of Bonn, pp. 1-9

Vlek,P.L.G.; Kühne,R.F.; Denich,M. (1997) Nutrient resources for crop production in the tropics. Phil.Trans.R.Soc.Lond.B, 352, pp. 975-985

Vlek,P.L.G.; Serrão,E.A.d.S.; Fölster,H. (1998) Secondary forests and fallow vegetation in the Eastern Amazon region - a brief overview of the project approach. In: Proceedings of the Third SHIFT-Workshop, Manaus, Brazil, Eds.Lieberei, Reinhard, Voss, Karsten, and Bianchi, Helmut. pp. 45-48

See also

Duration of the Project

September 1991 to August 2003, since September 1999 at ZEF


  • Prof. Dr. Paul Vlek (Head of Project)
  • Dr. Konrad Vielhauer (Coordinator)
  • Dr. Manfred Denich (Coordinator)
  • Lubica Paparcíková
  • Bart Wickel
  • José H. Cattanio
  • Francisco Romualdo de Sousa Filho
  • Christoph Gehring
  • Dr. N. C. van de Giesen
  • Prof. Dr. Joachim von Braun
  • Dr. Bettina Hedden-Dunkhorst
  • Dr. Thomas Hurtienne
  • Jan Börner
  • Arisbe Mendoza-Escalante


Manfred Denich

Dr. Manfred Denich


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