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close this bookAmaranth to Zai Holes, Ideas for Growing Food under Difficult Conditions (ECHO; 1996; 397 pages)
View the documentOther ECHO publications
View the documentAbout this book
View the documentAcknowledgements
close this folder1: Basics of agricultural development
Open this folder and view contentsBackground in agricultural development
close this folderSelecting suitable tropical crops
close this folderTechnical note: selecting the right crop for your location in the tropics or in the subtropics
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentPrincipal factors determining crop potential
View the documentPrediction of suitable crops
View the documentTable I. Ecological or life zones of the tropics, sub tropics, and warm temperate zones
View the documentTable II. Annual crops (or perennial crops grown as annuals) - climatic needs crop : rainfall - temperature - other considerations
View the documentTable IV. Suggested crops for specific climatic zones
View the documentDiscussion
View the documentAppendix I. Maximum ecological amplitudes for some tropical crops
View the documentTechnical note: Comparison charts of tropical crops
View the documentWhat seed would you take to an uninhabited tropical island?
View the documentHow can I garden in the hot humid tropics?
View the documentResource centers for agricultural development
Open this folder and view contents2: Vegetables and small fruits in the tropics
Open this folder and view contents3: Staple crops
Open this folder and view contents4: Multipurpose trees
Open this folder and view contents5: Farming systems and gardening techniques
Open this folder and view contents6: Soil health and plant nutrition
Open this folder and view contents7: Water resources
Open this folder and view contents8: Plant protection and pest control
Open this folder and view contents9: Domestic animals
Open this folder and view contents10: Food science
Open this folder and view contents11: Human health care
Open this folder and view contents12: Seeds and germplasm
Open this folder and view contents13: Energy and technologies
Open this folder and view contents14: From farm to market
Open this folder and view contents15: Training and missionary resources
Open this folder and view contents16: Oils
Open this folder and view contents17: Above-ground (urban) gardens
View the document18: What is ECHO?
View the documentAdditional ECHO publications
Open this folder and view contentsECHO development notes - issue 52
Open this folder and view contentsECHO development notes: issue 53
Open this folder and view contents28 additional technical notes about tropical agriculture
Open this folder and view contentsPrinciples of agroforestry
Open this folder and view contentsGood nutrition on the small farm
 
Discussion

In principle, it should be possible to characterize soil and climate so that areas that are similar, even though widely scattered, could use the same technology. In practice this has proved very difficult. As the number of factors increases sufficiently to carefully characterize sites, those that are similar become smaller and smaller in number. Researchers often refer to "site-specific technology." This simply means that any particular technology is specifically suited only to the site for which it was designed. This is true whether the technology is cultural techniques or pest control methods.

Two very large projects were specifically designed to overcome the problems of site-specific technology. In one of these the technology was to be developed at specific sites and demonstrated to be useful at similar sites. This project was unable to fulfill its objectives. In a second project years of experimentation at distant locations finally came through with a mathematical model to predict the yield of a crop at one location based on its performance at other locations. All test locations had to be thoroughly characterized. This has been done with only one crop, corn (maize). The technique is too cumbersome to be of practical value, and the old-fashioned technique of a varietal trial is still the best method of determining the value of a particular crop or technology.

There are no final answers to the questions, "What crop should I grow?" and "How should the crop be grown?" Superficially, agriculture is simply crops, climate, and land. But in reality each is extremely complex, requiring knowledge, experience, and judgment. On the other hand, the crop production potentialities are revealed by trial and error. There is no substitute for hard work and a sharp eye.

Some logical questions follow "What crop can I grow?" The answers may require considerably more study. What are appropriate varieties? Where can seed be obtained, and how can it be maintained? What are the appropriate seasons for planting? How can it best be fertilized? What insects, other pests, and diseases may occur, and how can they be controlled? When and how is the crop to be harvested? How can it be stored, processed and utilized? Will people accept it? Will it be economical in terms of energy, time, and money? Part of ECHO's work is to give you perspectives on these issues to equip you to answer such questions.

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