Human Ecology

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 269–283 | Cite as

Population and agricultural intensity in the humid tropics

  • Daniel E. Vasey


A review of models of agricultural intensification and their application to the agricultural systems of the humid tropics is presented. Taken into account are the distributions of these systems at various population densities, available data on labor efficiencies, the costs of establishing continuous cropping, and data regarding soils under cultivation and various types of fallow. The findings that fallows much longer than 10 or 15 years serve no known agronomic function, that given preindustrial technology, grass fallows are disadvantageous, even environmentally destructive, and that continuous cropping usually entails a considerable amount of environmental modification support the interpretations that agricultural intensification in the humid tropics is best understood in terms of ecologically optimal strategies at different population densities. Points needing further investigation are highlighted: the reasons for very long fallows, and the comparative labor efficiencies of fallow and continuous cropping systems where crops and environments are similar.

Key words

agricultural intensification population density humid tropics 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel E. Vasey
    • 1
  1. 1.Lecturer in the History of Science and TechnologyUniversity of PapuaNew Guinea

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