Skip to main content Accessibility help

The complexity of simple tillage systems

  • A. OSWALD (a1), S. DE HAAN (a1), J. SANCHEZ (a1) and R. CCANTO (a2)


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.


Corresponding author

*To whom all correspondence should be addressed. Email:


Hide All
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.
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.
Bourliaud, J., Hervé, D., Morlon, P. & Reau, R. (1988). Chakitaklla: estrategias de barbecho e intensificación de la agricultura andina. Lima, Peru: ORSTOM-PISA.
Cook, O. F. (1918). Foot-plow agriculture in Peru. In Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution, pp. 487491. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
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.
Gade, D. W. & Rios, R. (1972). Chaquitaclla – the native footplough and its persistence in Central Andean Agriculture. Tools and Tillage 2, 315.
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.
Gomez, K. A. & Gomez, A. A. (1984). Statistical Procedures for Agricultural Research. New York, USA: Wiley.
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.
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.
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).
Liebig, M. A. & Doran, J. W. (1999). Impact of organic production practices on soil organic indicators. Journal of Environmental Quality 28, 16011609.
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.
Mallory, E. B. & Porter, G. A. (2007). Potato yield stability under contrasting soil management strategies. Agronomy Journal 99, 501510.
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.
Reece, J. D. & Sumberg, J. (2003). More clients, less resources: toward a new conceptual framework for agricultural research in marginal areas. Technovation 23, 409421.
Rivero Luque, V. (1990). La Chakitaqlla en el Mundo Andino. Lima, Peru: Herrandina.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Zimmerer, K. S. (1998). The ecogeography of Andean potatoes: versatility in farm regions and fields can aid sustainable development. Bioscience 48, 445454.
Zimmerer, K. S. (1999). Overlapping patchworks of mountain agriculture in Peru and Bolivia: toward a regional–global landscape model. Human Ecology 27, 135165.
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).

The complexity of simple tillage systems

  • A. OSWALD (a1), S. DE HAAN (a1), J. SANCHEZ (a1) and R. CCANTO (a2)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed