This cropping technique that I call the Maya Method is labor intensive. But, for millions of farmers around the world, their major resourse is their labor. Right now, on farms around the world, people are working as hard as they can to produce crops only to see production decrease with each passing year because of the depletion of the soils fertility. The labor involved in the Mayan Method results in increased yields each year as the soils tilth and fertility improve.
This improvement in soil fertility is not a gradual process. When I first started growing crops on our land the soil was poor. In the field where I started using this method the Phosphorus level was very low (4 lb./acre), the Potassium level was very low (40 lbs./acre) and the organic matter content was only 1.8%. The pH was 5.8. After using the Mayan Method for four years I took another soil sample which now had a very high Phosphorus level ( 249 lbs./acre), a high level of Potassium (537 lbs./acre) and the organic matter content was 5.7%. The pH had risen to 6.2. When I first started growing in this field the earth worms present were few and small. When I took the second soil sample four years later they were numerous and large. They were depositing casts deep in the soil as they did the job of tilling the top layer of soil instead of me having to do it in preperation for the next years crop of maize. Instead of the hard clay I had started out with, I now had a fairly loose sandy loam.
There appear to be three main forces at work here. The first would be the worms loosening up the soil and depositing nutrient laden casts down at root level. The second would be the acids released by the decomposition of the organic matter which break down ionic bonds in the soil releasing nutrients which would be otherwise unavailable to the plants. The third would be the microrhisal fungi which thrive in the decomposing organic matter. They are present on every root, providing the increased nutrients directly to the plants. All three of these forces are unavailable to the farmer who is trying to increase his lands fertility by applying commercially produced ammendments. By increasing the organic matter in the soil this method not only increases fertility, it also crates healthy soil.
Presently, the precious organic matter that could be nourishing the soil of the worlds farms is being burned as a matter of convenience. It is much easier to burn the weeds and crop residues than it is to use them productively. But, somehow the farmers need to learn that the production of their soil is going up in smoke as well. Yes, the Mayan Method is labor intensive. But, at least the labor expended on this method yields increasing returns instead of the deminishing returns that result from present methods.