Tropical Agriculture – Community Authorship

Our intrepid tropical typographers, Emily and Sarah, are about to start putting text in to their signage designs.  I’m hoping that by blogging drafts of the text we plan to use it will be possible to refine and improve the text to make it more accurate and more useful.  Here is the draft text for the Tropical Agriculture section:

Tropical Agriculture

Agriculture in the tropics is a mix of subsistence and cash crop production. Unlike the extensive farming seen in the U.K., production in the tropics, where light levels are generally much higher can be optimised by growing several crops in different layers, often incuding an overstorey of trees that provide shade, fuel wood and fodder. Agroforestry is a collective name for land-use systems and technologies where woody perennials (trees, shrubs, palms, bamboos, etc.) are deliberately used on the same land-management units as agricultural crops and/or animals, in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence. In agroforestry systems there are both ecological and economical interactions between the different components (Lundgren and Raintree, 1982). Crop plants have been spread around the tropics over many centuries, the most rapid period of exchange is known as the Colombian Exchange when crops from Eurasia were taken to the Americas and crops from the Americas brought to Eurasia.  This is when wheat, rice and maize became truly global crops. Here we are cultivating a range of crops that provide both direct food to the farmer, such as Taro and Manioc, as well as cash crops such as Coffee and the timber and fodder tree Leucaena leucocephala. Sustainable crop production is vital to ensure that supplies of fresh vegetables and other plant products are readily available to rural communities. Our crops come from around the world and focus on perennial species that we can grow from year to year.

The text is aimed at a U.K. audience from school-children to research students so needs to be clear and precise without being too complex.

Comments please!

The finished signage can be seen at Sarah Wood’s design web page.

About Alastair Culham

A professional botanist and biologist with an interest in promoting biological knowledge and awareness to all.
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