Does anyone have any experience with hugelkulture in the tropics? I am looking for land in the Peruvian amazon and we don't have the kinds of problems with temperature and rainfall that exist in temperate climes (obviously). That said, I really like the concept and the long-term fertility of hugelbeds and I am just wondering if there are any unforeseen drawbacks to using this method in a humid tropical environment.
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
posted 5 years ago
Best thing in the world, I do it all the time. One of the big problems with tropics is that the soil is so alive, all your organic material goes away twice as fast. No down sides, lots of upsides that I have found.
Sustainable Plantations and Agroforestry in Costa Rica
no, there's no downsides. some people in the tropics are experimenting with biochar as well as woody beds. hugelkulture is impractical, as the frequent rains wash the soil downward. buried wood and organic matter is awesome though, and it does break down very quickly, often in one season in very active soils.
Thanks for the feedback, very helpful. I too am interested in bio-char application as well. I find the unique conditions that exist in the humid tropics to be both challenging and exciting but it seems a large majority of the information I encounter is focused on more temperate environments. Having said this, I am encouraged to find many who appear to have years of experience in permaculture application in the tropics and I am hoping to reach out to them for guidance and mentoring as we move forward. With that said, I was wondering if Fred Morgan would mind if I pm some questions from time to time as we move forward here in Peru? Pleas let me know Fred if you would be open to this. Thanks again to all for your supportive comments.
We do hugelkultur in the subtropics with felled banana trees. It's not true wood, just fibrous vegetation in log form but it works beautifully. The logs are already saturated with water and they release it as they break down which usually takes only a few months, on top of the logs we place dried banana leaf mulch then top with composted chicken manure and some soil. I plant seedlings directly into that and so far, nothing has died. In fact everything thrives. We've also used it for bulbs that need free draining soil which we cannot put directly into the ground because the property periodically floods. They are also thriving. This block is lowland coastal flood plain, the ground level is low and boggy often. The ground water is only a few feet below the surface so water isn't free draining. Using this method allows us to grow things that typically wouldn't survive the heavy rains.
Tropical rainforests have been "hugelkulturing" for eons, and it seems to have done a good job. It seems like the fact that the wood breaks down quicker would be a positive for most, and it would still be slower to lose nutrients than other forms of organic matter. Moreover, like in nature when a tree falls and rolls to an angle diagonal to contour, the mass of wood slows water and create soil deposits. I live near a temperate rainforest, and it is amazing to see how a 20ft thick tree can reshape the landscape when it falls.
This is all just my opinion based on a flawed memory
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