Milpa plantations in Mexico

Jun 04, 2024

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The system uses intercropping, meaning many different crop species are grown together in the same space. It is quite the opposite of monoculture here, with each family growing a variety of nutritious crops.

A conventional milpa includes maize (Zea mays), also known as corn, beans (e.g. Phaseolus species) and squash (e.g. Cucurbita species), as well as many useful herbs including chillies (Capsicum species).

Maize was selectively used for milpa agriculture, to have strong stems to support climbing beans, allowing them access to light. These beans improve soil health by fixing nitrogen, an essential plant nutrient. The large sprawling leaves of the squash shade the soil, reducing moisture loss and preventing weed growth.

Maize is also helping in providing nutrition to Mexicans.

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