Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-dknvm Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-25T12:22:33.319Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The complexity of simple tillage systems

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 March 2009

International Potato Center (CIP), Avenida La Molina 1895, Lima 12, Peru
International Potato Center (CIP), Avenida La Molina 1895, Lima 12, Peru
International Potato Center (CIP), Avenida La Molina 1895, Lima 12, Peru
NGO Yanapai, Huancavelica, Peru
*To whom all correspondence should be addressed. Email:


In the Central Peruvian highlands, potatoes are commonly cultivated by smallholder farmers in fields between 3500 and 4300 m asl. Severe climatic conditions, marginal soils and limited access to inputs and infrastructure define these challenging agro-ecological environments. To prepare an adequate seed bed for the potato and mitigate climatic, topographic and labour constraints, Andean farmers have developed distinct footplough-based tillage systems: barbecho, chiwa and chacmeo. A series of field experiments was conducted in 2005/06 and 2006/07 at four different locations to investigate the effect of three different tillage systems on potato tuber yield, varying factors such as cultivars and types and amounts of fertilizer applied. The objective was to improve understanding of the effect of these factors on potato yield and study the potential advantages and disadvantages of each tillage system.

The study showed that the type of tillage influenced a great variety of factors. Farmers often use a combination of tillage systems as a strategy to diversify possible risks, considering trade-offs regarding productivity v. yield stability, internal v. external resource use, labour requirement during peak times v. more uniform distribution or extensive v. intensive production. The chiwa and to some extent the chacmeo tillage systems resulted in relatively constant and stable yields for different environments and genetic materials, whereas the more intensive barbecho system sought to optimize growth conditions for the potato crop but was more liable to stress and required external resources. Currently, farmers often use the barbecho system to produce commercial cultivars for the urban markets investing the greatest share of internal and external resources. They use the chiwa and chacmeo systems to produce diverse native cultivars for their home consumption, valorizing their taste, cooking qualities and lower resource requirements.

Crops and Soils
Copyright © 2009 Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Barzegar, A. R., Yousefi, A. & Daryashenas, A. (2002). The effect of addition of different amounts and types of organic materials on soil physical properties and yield of wheat. Plant Soil 247, 295301.Google Scholar
Black, W. N. & White, R. P. (1973). Effects of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and manure factorally applied to potatoes in a long-term study. Canadian Journal of Soil Science 53, 205211.Google Scholar
Bourliaud, J., Hervé, D., Morlon, P. & Reau, R. (1988). Chakitaklla: estrategias de barbecho e intensificación de la agricultura andina. Lima, Peru: ORSTOM-PISA.Google Scholar
Cook, O. F. (1918). Foot-plow agriculture in Peru. In Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution, pp. 487491. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
De Haan, S., Bonierbale, M., Juarez, H., Poma, J. & Salas, E. (2008). Temporal and spatial dimensions of potato genetic diversity in Huancavelica, Central Peru. In Proceedings of the International Conference: Potato Science for the Poor – Challenges for the New Millennium, Cusco, Peru, 25–28 March 2008. Book of Abstracts, p. 18. Lima, Peru: International Potato Center.Google Scholar
Gade, D. W. & Rios, R. (1972). Chaquitaclla – the native footplough and its persistence in Central Andean Agriculture. Tools and Tillage 2, 315.Google Scholar
Goland, C. (1993). Field scattering as agricultural risk management: a case study from Cuyo Cuyo, Department of Puno, Peru. Mountain Research and Development 13, 317338.Google Scholar
Gomez, K. A. & Gomez, A. A. (1984). Statistical Procedures for Agricultural Research. New York, USA: Wiley.Google Scholar
Halloy, S. R. P., Ortega, R., Yager, K. & Seimon, A. (2005). Traditional Andean cultivation systems and implications for sustainable land use. Acta Horticulturae 670, 3155.Google Scholar
Hervé, D. (1994). Desarrollo sostenible en los andes altos los sistemas de cultivo con descanso largo pastoreado. In Dinámicas del Descanso de la Tierra en los Andes (Eds Hervé, D., Genin, D. & Riviere, G.), pp. 1536. La Paz, Bolivia: IBTA-OSTROM.Google Scholar
Hocquenghem, A. M. (2008). ¿Con el Pie Derecho o el Izquierdo?: a propósito de las representaciones del manejo de la chaquitaclla. Huancayo, Peru: Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano (ICPNA).Google Scholar
Liebig, M. A. & Doran, J. W. (1999). Impact of organic production practices on soil organic indicators. Journal of Environmental Quality 28, 16011609.Google Scholar
Malhi, S. S., Lemke, R., Wang, Z. H. & Chhabra, B. S. (2006). Tillage, nitrogen and crop residue effects on crop yield, nutrient uptake, soil quality, and greenhouse gas emissions. Soil & Tillage Research 90, 171183.Google Scholar
Mallory, E. B. & Porter, G. A. (2007). Potato yield stability under contrasting soil management strategies. Agronomy Journal 99, 501510.Google Scholar
Oorts, K., Nicolardot, B., Merckx, R., Richard, G. & Boizard, H. (2006). C and N mineralization of undisrupted and disrupted soil from different structural zones of conventional tillage and no-tillage systems in northern France. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 38, 25762586.Google Scholar
Reece, J. D. & Sumberg, J. (2003). More clients, less resources: toward a new conceptual framework for agricultural research in marginal areas. Technovation 23, 409421.Google Scholar
Rivero Luque, V. (1990). La Chakitaqlla en el Mundo Andino. Lima, Peru: Herrandina.Google Scholar
RuiJun, Q. & FuXing, C. (2005). Amelioration of aluminum toxicity in red soil through use of barnyard and green manure. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis 36, 18751889.Google Scholar
Srivastava, R., Roseti, D. & Sharma, A. K. (2007). The evaluation of microbial diversity in a vegetable based cropping system under organic farming practices. Applied Soil Ecology 36, 116123.Google Scholar
Tamm, L., Bruns, Ch., Leifert, C., Fuchs, J. G., Thürig, B., Specht, N. & Fliessbach, A. (2006). Impact of soil management practices on soil fertility and disease suppressiveness. In Joint Organic Congress, Odense, Denmark, 30–31 May 2006. Available online at (verified 8 January 2009).Google Scholar
Tang, Y., Zhang, H., Schroder, J. L., Payton, M. E. & Zhou, D. (2007). Animal manure reduces aluminum toxicity in an acid soil. Soil Science Society of America Journal 71, 16991707.Google Scholar
Tu, C., Louws, F. J., Creamer, N. G., Mueller, J. P., Brownie, C., Fager, K., Bell, M. & Hu, S. (2006). Responses of soil microbial biomass and N availability to transition strategies from conventional to organic farming systems. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 113, 206215.Google Scholar
Zimmerer, K. S. (1998). The ecogeography of Andean potatoes: versatility in farm regions and fields can aid sustainable development. Bioscience 48, 445454.Google Scholar
Zimmerer, K. S. (1999). Overlapping patchworks of mountain agriculture in Peru and Bolivia: toward a regional–global landscape model. Human Ecology 27, 135165.Google Scholar
Zoomers, A. (1999). Linking Livelihood Strategies to Development: Experiences from the Bolivian Andes. Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Center for Latin American Research and Documentation (CEDLA).Google Scholar