Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Swidden Agriculture

Type of hoe agriculture in which an area of natural vegetation is cut, dried and burned; the nutrient-containing ashes are then mixed into the soil, and small plots containing a complex mixture of crops are planted; after a period, when nutrients are selectively exhausted, the plot is allowed to lie fallow and overgrow with natural vegetation; the process is then repeated in a new location. This mode of subsistence farming usually provides for the basic needs of the group, with little surplus for marketing. Aka shifting cultivation, slash-and-burn, milpa, chitimeme.

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