n conclusion, RF such as chinampas, if correctly managed, produce high yields with relatively low inputs
the chinampa system, which was developed during the time of the Aztecs in the region of Lake Xochimilco, south of Mexico City
A chinampa is a raised field on a small artificial island on a freshwater lake surrounded by canals and ditches.
Farmers use local vegetation and mud to construct chinampas. Fences made of a native willow [bonpland willow (Salix bonplandiana)] protect the chinampa from wind, pests, and erosion
The dominating crops are vegetables and ornamentals
Complex rotations and associations allow up to seven harvests per year.
They are also commonly called floating gardens
Chinampas are considered raised field (RF) systems, which are a type of agriculture consisting of elevated, narrow platforms used as fields surrounded by water canals connected to ditches
These fields are constructed by digging the canals and mounding the obtained earth on the platforms
The chinampas of today are situated at an altitude of 2240 m near the lake region of Mexico City, mainly Lake Xochimilco
Their development was linked to high regional population density and the growth of sizable local urban communities.
The RF agriculture provided pre-Columbian farmers with better drainage, soil aeration, moisture retention during the dry season, high and long-term fertility, and high productivity per area and input (
After the conquest, new crops were established, especially vegetables with a high tolerance for moisture such as lettuce (Lactuca sativa) or cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata). The introduced livestock provided manure for fertilization
Due to the introduction of conventional production techniques in the context of the Green Revolution around 1970, the chinampas of today are significantly altered compared to the Aztec ones
Between 1989 and 2006, urban land increased from 46.7% to 57.2% of the total area in Xochimilco (not including illegal housing), and the space for chinampas decreased from 7.4% to 2.5%
Urbanization has caused environmental problems such as forest degradation, erosion, floods, land sinking, pollution of soil and water, reduced water retention and infiltration, and a loss of biodiversity
n 1950, the local government began supplying treated sewage water for the chinampas because many canals annually run dry. The polluted water caused soil degradation and habitat alteration
chinampa soils are characterized by considerable aerobic microbial activity and, consequently, high oxygen consumption
The length of the individual fields varies from 8 to 100 m, and the width varies from 2 to 25 m
The desired capillary effect determines the optimal dimensions: if the soil water is deficient during certain periods, then narrow fields are more convenient, and vice versa
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