Rebuilding Haiti must start from the ground up, with agricultural education
To replenish the hillside soil we need to use nitrogen-fixing plants. These can be annual or perennial vegetative legumes, shrub legumes, or tree legumes.
When planting any trees between the vetiver hedgerows care must be taken not to shade the vetiver!
Tree legumes are the best plants, but the must be regularly cut back, this keeps the grass growing strong and gives fodder for soil and animals. Branches are great for use as biofuel when the leaves fall off and are dry.
Nitrogen fixing legumes have a symbiotic bacteria that colonizes their roots and converts atmospheric nitrogen to a form that plants can use. The legume uses this nitrogen as a fertilizer. Legume leaves are excellent fodder with lots of protein for animals or enriching the soil for other crops. But without Step 1 Vetiver Grass there is no holding the soil on these mountains.
Great article on Green Manure/Cover Crops for intercropping between the hedgerows
Ground legumes fix nitrogen in the soil. With the severe food shortage the best plant is beans, but they are cultivated on the mountainsides so they must have vetiver hedges to prevent soil loss.
Black and red beans are excellent to plant between rows of Vetiver when terrain is not too steep.
These pictures are taken of Fidor's alley cropping in Gris Gris Haiti
Tree legumes is another source of nitrogen fixing plants that don't need cultivating and grow in dryer areas and have a lot of leaves packed with protein that makes great animal or soil fodder:
Some organizations have been planting these trees in hedgerows for erosion control. Not effective like Vetiver but Leucaena when planted with vetiver is the best combination to refurbish the soil. Also it's long roots penetrate the limestone, which helps water get to well levels, and helps prevent mudslides during torrential rains. Other great qualities are its quickness to provide wood. They call it the Multiplier Tree; some call it the tree of the future.
The draw back to leucaena it is prolific and is not desirable near gardens, it also must be cutback . But in areas already severely eroded it is a great combination, great fodder for land and goats.
Check out this video on Leucaena!
Its uses are many besides reforesting Haiti and rich organic fertilizer it can be used for firewood, timber, fence-posts and trimmed for charcoal. A real plus, this tree already grows prolifically in our area they just have to plant it correctly. What we like best about it is it gives nitrogen to the soil which makes gardens grow better. And the leaves are abundant what is not eaten will also compost itself in the next lower terrace trapped in the Vetiver.
In Florida this vetiver is cut low to the ground and shredded as silage for cattle.
We will space our Leucaena 1.5 meters apart and trim them continually at 1 meter
Spacing from below vetiver at least 2 meters unless very steep
Some Useful Lesser Known Tropical Legumes
Mucuna - cover crop, mulch
Cassia rotundifolia- ruminant forage (kas)
Lablab purpureus- leaves - ruminants
Macroptilium spp. – ruminant forage
Sphenostylis stenocarpa -African yam beans- leaves - ruminants
Canavalia gladiata - sword beans – leaves - ruminants
Erythrina spp. - leaves - ruminants (motel)
Gliricidia sepium - leaves - ruminants (lila etranje)
Senna siamea (Cassia) - erosion control, mulch (senn)
Tephrosia candida-leaves - ruminants
Calliandra calothyrsus - leaves - ruminants
Sesbania sesban- leaves - ruminants
Non legumes shrubs/trees/grass
Moringa oleifera - leaves - ruminants, humans (Zoliv)
Tithonia diversifolia –phosphorus, biomass, nitrogen
Trichanthera gigantea - leaves – pigs
Nitrogen Fixing Tree and Shrub Fact Sheets
Some Tropical Forage Legumes
Macroptilium lathyroides(DC) Urb. (phasey bean)
This is a self regenerating annual or biennial. It is tolerant of water-logging and it has flowering and fruiting branches.
Centrosema pubescens Benth, (centro)
It is a climbing, twining perennial that is the foundation of fattening and dairying pastures in the wet tropics. Centro combines well with tall grasses such as guinea grass, but has also done satisfactorily with pangola and para grass. While moderately palatable, centro can withstand heavy grazing. Centro has a good rooting system and can withstand a long dry season.
Pueraria phaseoloides (Roxb.) Benth (Puero) Puero has been used as a pioneer crop, green manure and a good ground cover under plantation crops in the humid tropics. It establishes and grows vigorously in pastures, forming a dense, smothering mat under lightly grazed condition. As it does not persist under heavy grazing, puero should be sown with more persistent species such as centro.
Calopogonium mucunoides Desv.(calopo) Calopo is a short-lived, vigorous trailing perennial which will climb over any vegetation to form a dense mat of foliage. It seeds freely and regenerates naturally from seed.
Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit.(Leucaena) It is drought resistant which makes it an invaluable dry season feed. Leaves and seeds of leucaena contain mimosine, a toxic amino acid which can produce ill effects in ruminants which do not have the necessary micro-organisms in their rumen to detoxify it.
Stylosanthes guanensis (Aubl.) Sw. (Stylo) Stylo is a perennial legume for warm humid tropics.It is fairly drought tolerant and also very tolerant of low fertility and acid soils. Seed should be surface sown or planted no deeper than 10mm without needing inoculation as seedlings nodulate with natural rhizobium strains. It is susceptible to anthracnose soils.
Macroptillium atropurpureum (DC) Urb.(Siratro) Siratro is a perennial twining legume for a wide range of reasonable soils. It combines with tall grasses but it is not tolerant of constant heavy grazing. It is a highly productive species that is able to fix large amount of nitrogen and pass this quickly to the companion grasses.
Clitoria ternatea (L.) (Blue pea) Tender perennial legume. Needs an abundance of water and good drainage
Many legume and other leaves can be eaten by people as well as animals. See Leaf for Life website: