Keep the soil covered. At ECHO, the soil around nearly all our plantings—vegetables, fruits, grains, root and tuber crops, even forestry plots—is covered with organic matter. Whether through crop residues, a permanent cover, a slash and mulch green manure, a cut and carry mulch (for example, vetiver grass stems), or wood chips from tree trimming companies, we make a strong effort to not leave bare ground. This has been a practice for decades at ECHO, foundational to success with our own plantings. It was confirmed and underscored from the very positive reports shared by Roland Bunch from Central America on the enormous importance of keeping the soil covered in the tropics. Our observations and experiences on the ECHO farm and in network visits to many regions around the world increasingly confirm to us that mulching is a critical aspect of farming in the tropics. When all else fails, mulch. For more on the importance of mulch, see EDN 58-1, 74-1 and 96-1.
ECHO Staff 2008. Mulch, mulch, mulch.. ECHO Development Notes no. 100