Wilbert Trejo Lizama, Ronald Santos Ricalde, Simon Anderson, Albert Sundrum:
Integrating Pigs and Maize Production in a Low Input Production System in the Tropic of Mexico


1Autonomous University of Yucatan, Agroecology, Mexico
2Autonomous University of Yucatan, Animal Nutrition, Mexico
3Imperial Collage London, Agricultural Sciences, United Kingdom
4University of Kassel, Department of Animal Nutrition and Animal Health, Germany

In the tropic of Mexico the ``Milpa'' system is a very traditional farming system. However, the spatial separation of the crops and animals results in a one way flux of nutrients from crop fields to the home gardens. Additionally there is a tendency towards a reduction of the fallow period of the forest. Both factors causes a considerable reduction in the maize yield. The objective of the experiment was to determine whether the use of pigs in a field rotation has a beneficial effect on maize yield.

The treatments designed were as follows: traditionally slash and burn (TT), keeping pigs before the cultivation of maize (PiK) and a control without pigs and without burn (WOPB). Creole pigs were used and were feed with a 12% protein diet consisting of 75% maize and 25% heated mucuna bean. The parameters measured were pig performance, amount of weeds, labour time, soil mineral nitrogen and maize yield. There were two repetitions of the TT and three for PPS and WOPB treatments.

Pig performance was similar in the three groups. A reduction of maize yield was found in TT and WOPB and no reduction was found in PPS compared to first year (p < 0.01). Lower weeds were found in PiK compared to TT and WOPB (p < 0.01). Labour time for weed control was reduced in PiK compared to TT and WOPB. Higher mineral nitrogen in the soil was found in PiK. A better input/output of nitrogen was observed in PiK compared to TT.

The use of pigs in a field rotation with maize is a method of low input and provide advantages in optimise the nitrogen balance in the production system. This can stabilise the maize production without the use of fire with benefits not only for the farmers but also to the global environment. Further research is needed to optimise the use of pigs for a sustainable production of maize.

Keywords: Low inputs, maize, pigs, rotation


Contact Address: Wilbert Trejo Lizama, Autonomous University of Yucatan, AgroecologyApartado Postal 4-116 Itzimna, 97000 Merida, Mexico, e-mail: wtlizama@tunku.uady.mx
Andreas Deininger, September 2004