Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

A Congo Basin ethnographic analogue of pre-Columbian Amazonian raised fields shows the ephemeral legacy of organic matter management

Abstract : The functioning and productivity of pre-Columbian raised fields (RFs) and their role in the development of complex societies in Amazonian savannas remain debated. RF agriculture is conducted today in the Congo Basin, offering an instructive analogue to pre-Columbian RFs in Amazonia. Our study of construction of present-day RFs documents periodic addition of organic matter (OM) during repeated field/fallow cycles. Field investigations of RF profiles supported by spectrophotometry reveal a characteristic stratigraphy. Soil geochemistry indicates that the management of Congo RFs improves soil fertility for a limited time when they are under cultivation, but nutrient availability in fallow RFs differs little from that in uncultivated reference topsoils. Furthermore, examination of soil micromorphology shows that within less than 40 years, bioturbation almost completely removes stratigraphic evidence of repeated OM amendments. If Amazonian RFs were similarly managed, their vestiges would thus be unlikely to show traces of such management centuries after abandonment. These results call into question the hypothesis that the sole purpose of constructing RFs in pre-Columbian Amazonia was drainage
Complete list of metadatas

Cited literature [62 references]  Display  Hide  Download

https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-02900508
Contributor : Dominique Fournier <>
Submitted on : Thursday, July 16, 2020 - 11:00:52 AM
Last modification on : Friday, September 18, 2020 - 2:35:07 PM

File

Rodrigues-SR-2020-CC-BY.pdf
Publisher files allowed on an open archive

Licence


Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Identifiers

Citation

Leonor Rodrigues, Tobias Sprafke, Carine Moyikola, Bernard Barthès, Isabelle Bertrand, et al.. A Congo Basin ethnographic analogue of pre-Columbian Amazonian raised fields shows the ephemeral legacy of organic matter management. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2020, 10 (1), ⟨10.1038/s41598-020-67467-8⟩. ⟨hal-02900508⟩

Share

Metrics

Record views

173

Files downloads

75