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CROP-ANIMAL MIXED SYSTEMS: (A) CORN, BEANS, RICE WITH
DUAL-PURPOSE CATTLE, PIGS AND (B) CORN, BEANS WITH
Rolando Piskulich, Manuel E. Ruiz, Marcelino Avila,
Danilo Pezo, and Arnoldo Ruiz
Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensenanza
Turrialba, Costa Rica
The research activities of the Tropical Agricultural Re-
search and Training Center are directed towards the study
and development of agrosilvopastoral systems at the small
farm level. These systems include combinations of crops,
animals, and forestry components and are thus called mixed
systems. For the purposes of this document on the study of
mixed crop-animals systems, a methodology has been esta-
blished for a diagnostic study of farms in various areas of
Central America countries. The collection of information
will subsequently permit the study of the interactions and
complementary effects between the different system compo-
nents. This will create an additional criterion for the
process of generation and adoption of adequate technologies
to improve currently existing mixed-production systems.
The objective of the present study is to describe and ana-
lyze two types of mixed systems, each containing crop and
animal subsystems, namely:
Mixed system corn-bean-rice/swine and dual-purpose cat-
tle Cariari, Costa Rica
Mixed system corn-beans/dual-purpose cattle Matagal-
MATERIALS AND METHODS
AREAS OF STUDY
CATIE carries out its research activities at its own head-
quarters as well as in various areas in each of the coun-
tries of the Central American Isthmus. In each area it has
been found that small farmers tend to practice more than one
agricultural activity; thus, in Costa Rica, Canton of Poco-
ci, Province of Limon and Cariari District, the predominant
mixed system is corn-beans-rice/swine and dual-purpose cat-
tle. In Nicaragua, Department of Matagalpa, Municipality of
Matagalpa, Community of Samulali, the predominant mixed
system is corn-beans/dual-purpose cattle.
For purposes of the present paper, the following ecologic
parameters will be used to describe the areas under study:
o Climatic profile
Temperature: Annual and monthly averages
Precipitation: Annual and monthly averages
o Altitude above sea level
o Predominant soil conditions
SOCIOECONOMIC PROFILE OF THE FARMER'S ENVIRONMENT
In this section the socioeconomic characteristics of the
study area will be described, taking into account the fol-
o Pro~j c markets
o Credi t sources
o Technical assistance
o Predominant agroanoic -syrteims
o Predominant livestock systems
o Land ownership
o Family composition
o Far-ime's income
o Availability of labor
DESCRIPTION OF THE MIXED CROP-ANIMAL SYSTEM
Hierarchical Organization of the Mixed System
The mixed system per se was subdivided into three sub-
o Socioeconomic regulating subsystem
o Crop production subsystem
o Animal production subsystem
The relationship among the three subsystems can be repre-
sented as shown in Figure 1.
Following is a description of each of the three subsystems:
Socioeconomic regulating subsystem. To describe this
subsystem, the observation of Hart (1979), indicating that
the socioeconomic subsystem of a farm is the controlling
factor for the agricultural processes within a farm, was
taken into consideration. The components of this subsystem
are of a physical, biological, and socioecological nature;
the human components are undoubtedly the most important.
However, housing, storage facilities, and workshops, as well
as equipment, such as tools and machinery, also must be con-
sidered as components of the socioeconomic subsystem. For
purposes of the present study, the socioeconomic component
of the mixed systems was described by:
o Family unit
o Housing, storage facilities, pens, and equipment
o Size and arrangement of the farm
Crop production subsystem. For crops which follow a
systematic process of planting and harvesting in areas
larger than 0.25 ha the following parameters were used:
Animal Production Regulating Crop
Sub-Sub-sysm ub-systcm Production
Mixed Crop/Animal System
Fig. 1. Hierarchical Organization of the Mixed Crop/Animal System.
o Spatial arrangement
o Chronological arrangement
o Average production/year/farm
o Utilization of products
For those crops that do not follow a systematic process of
planting and harvesting, only a general description will be
Animal production subsystem. For each species
involved, the following parameters were used:
o Animal component by sex, age, and physiological
o Average production/year/farm
o Utilization of products
Interactions of Mixed Systems
The form in which the subsystems interact in the mixed
system is described, giving consideration to the following
possible forms of interaction:
Competitive interaction. This refers to those activi-
ties which affect more than one subsystem in such a manner
that an increase in the activities in one subsystem produces
a decrease in the activities in other subsystem(s).
Complementary interactions. This refers to those
activities which affect more than one subsystem in such a
manner that an increase in activities in one subsystem pro-
duces an increase in the activities in other subsystem(s).
To describe the mixed system, the following aspects have
o Relative importance of the crop and animal subsystems
within the mixed system
o Principal restrictions in production
o Principal restrictions in commercialization
o Diagram of the mixed crop-animal system
COLLECTION OF INFORMATION
For each mixed system studied, information was collected
from a fixed sample of three farms per system.
For farm selection, the following criteria were used:
o 7r` the farm be representative of the mixed system to
o That the farm hbee representative, within the zone, as to
characteristics of size, types of agricultural activi-
ties, and form of management of crops and animals
o That the farm belong to the group of farms which CATIE
In addition, considering that a sai'pile of only three farms
could, in some cases, give bias,7- information, references
also were made to previous studies made by the CATIE staff
based on a greater number of scir.-e'.' t:e; within the zones
being studied. Although these aii.tional surveys were not
taken especially for mixed systems, as were those of the
present study, they did include some farms using nmixeil crop-
animal systems, which permits the use of this information as
a frame of reference within the process of description of
the specific mixed systems which are the object of the pre-
The information on aspects of the farmers' surrounding envi-
ronment, climate and soils was extracted from studies pub-
lished by CATIE research staff.
UNITS OF MEASURE
The metric decimal system and the following monetary units
o Costa Rica : the colon ( )
o Nicaragua : the cordoba ( $)
o For U.S. dollar, equivalencies for both the colon
and cordoba are converted using an exchange rate
of 20 to 1 U.S. dollar.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
CORN-BEAN-RICE/SWINE AND DUAL-PURPOSE CATTLE SYSTEM
Area of Study
Costa Rica, Canton of Pococi, Province of Limon, Cariari
Data reported by Burgos (1979) indicate that:
o Average monthly precipitation was 356.75 mm and
average annual precipitation was 4,361 mm. It may
be said, with a 75% probability, that no month of
the year will have less than 100 mm of precipita-
o Average monthly relative humidity was 86%.
o Altitude at Cariari is 299 m above sea level.
Predominant Soil Conditions
According to Burgos (1979), the major soil characteristics
for Cariari are:
Name : Hydromorphic latosol
Relief : Level to concave
Physiography : Slight depression
Parent Material : Lava and pyroclastic materials
Drainage : Poor
The same author reports that these soils seem to be of mode-
rate fertility and have drainage problems. Cultivation of
these soils with a tractor or other equipment may be diffi-
cult during rainy periods. The addition of phosphorus and
nitrogen, as well as appropriate soil management, would
improve crop yields.
Socioeconomic Profile of the Farmer's Environment
The following information, obtained from CATIE (1979b),
refers to the Cantons of Pococi and Guacimo but has been
condensed to emphasize those aspects pertinent to Pococi.
Population. For the zone comprised of the districts of
Guapiles, Cariari, and Guacimo, the population in 1977 was
estimated at 21,473 inhabitants; in 1973, 75% of the popula-
tion was rural and the urban population was concentrated in
Guapiles and Guacimo.
In the decade 1963-1973, the Atlantic region was the zone
which attracted the largest number of immigrants in the
country. It is possible that this phenomenon was due to an
expansion of the banana plantations which required a great
deal of hired labor at high salary levels.
The economically active population in 1973 was 6,203 per-
sons: 66% dedicated to the agricultural sector, 6% to the
industrial sector, 24% to services, and 4% not specified.
The average family in the area of study is large. A preli-
minary survey in 1976 indicates an average of 6.6 children
In 1973, more than 85% of the farms of the zone were smaller
than 50 ha and these small farms comprised 29% of the total
farming area. In Cariari 98% of the farms were owned by the
Labor and job opportunities. The organization of pro-
duction in the study area allows for frequent migration of
the family laborers of small farms to the banana planta-
tions, where they may obtain salaried jobs. The higher in-
come from these jobs is very important to the family economy
of the subsistence farmer. However, this loss of farm
laborers limits the agricultural production of the small
Scarcity of land, labor, and 'other resources are factors
which should stimulate the development of new farming tech-
niques for the improvement of the family situation of the
large sector of the population which possesses little land
and practices the cultivation of annual crops, especially
corn and cassava.
Categorization of the economically active population of the
study is by occupation, and the 1973 census indicated that
17% (1,061 persons) were self-employed. If account is taken
that two-thirds of this economically active population works
in the agricultural sector and that the banana plantations
and cattle farms belong to only a few companies, it may be
supposed that there is a considerable group of small farmers
who merit the attention of the professionals trained in pro-
duction. Such professionals can introduce changes to pro-
vide improved management of crops which are feasible under
the restrictions of their total environment.
Products and agricultural activities of the area. In
farms larger than 50 ha within the study area, the produc-
tion of bananas for exportation is of major importance; in
1973 these farms accounted for 20% of the total banana pro-
duction of the Atlantic region.
In farms of less than 50 ha, which includes 35% of the farms
in the area (approximately 800 farms in Guacimo and Pococi),
the principal crops are corn, cassava, and plantain. Beans
are also cultivated, but in smaller proportion since it is a
high risk crop due to the climatic conditions of the area.
According to the 1973 census data, the area under study pro-
duced 44% of the corn for the Atlantic region, and 15% of
this was used for family consumption within the farms.
Although corn production utilizes principally family labor,
the farmers do not depend exclusively on this farm activity
for their income, but often supplement their income by work-
ing on the banana plantations or in other jobs.
Some of the farmers believe that corn as a crop presents
problems because of wind damage and insect pests, as well as
the high cost of the necessary inputs, especially consider-
ing the poor economic conditions in which this agricultural
activity is carried out. In addition, they feel that the
price paid for their corn is very low, thus leaving them
with an unsatisfactory profit. They indicate that they con-
tinue to plant corn because it is a crop with a rapid har-
vest and is the traditional crop of the zone.
Cassava production in the Atlantic region, according to the
1973 agricultural census, contributed 26% of the total
cassava production of the country. In the area under study,
the production of cassava on small farms is a very important
activity and the environment and climate area very favor-
able. In addition, the farmers feel that this crop requires
very little labor and inputs and also has the advantage of a
satisfactory market with the cassava processing plants in
San Jose and Turrialba, as well as the traditional market of
family consumption among the people of the area where the
cassava is produced.
Although the beans grown in the study area are of little
importance in terms of national production, this crop is of
certain importance for the Atlantic region; 27% of this
region's beans are produced in the area under study. The
population of the study area consumes 41% of its total pro-
duction of beans, thus indicating the importance of beans in
the daily diet.
This crop is not produced on a commercial scale, however,
because climatic factors such as relative humidity and high
levels of rainfall limit its success.
Cacao as a crop in the Atlantic region is of considerable
importance; the 1973 census indicated that 87% of the
national production is from the Atlantic region. However,
cacao is of little significance in the area under study,
since only 1% of the Atlantic region's production is grown
in this area.
Important aspects of the farming system. The following
important aspects have been extracted from the analysis of
farming systems for small farmers carried out in June and
July, 1977, by Navarro (1978), cited by CATIE (1979).
a. Annual crops utilize 31% of the surface area of
the farms surveyed, generate 79% of the total in-
come, and require 23% of the expenditures and 81%
of the labor utilized on the farms.
b. Perennial crops occupy 4% of the farm area and
generate 3% of the farm income, while being re-
sponsible for 1% of the expenses and 4% of the
c. Cattle farming occupies 4% of the farm area, pro-
duces 13% of the income, 8% of the expenditures
and utilizes 12% of the farm labor.
d. The idle land, or land in forest, comprises 32% of
the farm land, generates 3% of the income, does
not produce detectable expenses, and utilizes 1%
of the labor.
Public health. There are health centers and a hospital
in the area.
Basic services. There is municipal service of drinking
water in urban centers, while families which live some dis-
tance from the centers of population have private water
lines to satisfy their needs with water from rivers,
streams, springs, and wells. In Cariari there is one public
Credit. There are various possibilities for credit,
among which the most important are the following:
a. Some commercial establishments buy corn in advance
so that the .small farmer may sell his harvest
before it is collected.
b. There are individuals who make private loans.
c. The national banking system makes loans to farmers
d. The agricultural and industrial cooperative in
Pococi is composed of 215 members, which includes
Marketing. There are various forms of marketing for
the products of the study area. One way is to sell to mer-
chants who come directly to the farm to buy the produce.
Another way is for the farmer to sell his products to the
National Council of Production, and they frequently sell
their grains to the grain dryer of this establishment. How-
ever, the farmers consider it unfair practice for this
institution to penalize them for the humidity of the grain,
since this factor is due to the prevailing climatic condi-
tions of the zone over which they have no control. This
suggests the possibility of research on inexpensive methods
for drying grains.
Technical assistance. The agricultural extension
agency for Pococi is in charge of technical assistance.
This agency is a dependency of the Ministry of Agriculture.
The personnel and economic resources of the agency are
insufficient to attend the small farms of the area of study
in a satisfactory manner.
Education. In the area of study there are two agricul-
tural vocational high schools that grant diplomas for
middle-level technicians in agricultural sciences and family
education. On the university level, the headquarters of the
Atlantic branch of the School of Agronomy of the University
of Costa Rica is in Guapiles, a town near Cariari.
Socioeconomic Regulating Subsystem
Family component. Table 1 shows the characteristics of
the family component. The figures given are similar to
other reports for the given area, except the gross income
data, which are three times higher for the three farms sur-
veyed, as compared to a previous study. This difference is
most likely due to the significant devaluation of the Costa
Rican currency and the concomitant increases in prices and
costs. The possibility must be recognized, however, that
the combination of corn-beans-rice/swine and dual-purpose
cattle may be more efficient economically than the average
system included in the other study footnoted in Table 1.
Calculation of the gross income was based on the sales of
corn, milk, cheese, bulls, and pigs, as these are the only
commercial products of the surveyed farms. However, the
farmers also derive income from the sporadic sale of beans,
poultry, eggs, and other products. Due to the infrequency
of these sales, it is difficult for the farmer to recall
figures, and, therefore they have not been included.
Housing, storage facilities, pens, and equipment.
a. Housing. Houses in the area have an average area
of construction of about 55 m2, are made of wood
with zinc roofing and are buildings which may be
considered of average quality within the standards
for farm houses in this country. One of the homes
has electricity from its own generator and the
other two have electricity from lines of the
national electric company. Water comes from
wells. The average value of these homes is $4,150
b. Storage facilities. The farmers have barns made
of wood with zinc roofing, with an average area of
construction of 124 m and average cost of $1,683
Variability was high in this case because one of
the three farmers surveyed owns a barn for cattle
management with an area of 180 m and a cost of
$4,000 (US), while neither of the other two far-
mers has a barn as large or as expensive. These
barns are structures of multiple use, which may be
used for storage, for ripening of bananas, to
house nests for hens, as pens for pigs, and as
c. Pens. There are pens for the raising of pigs,
with fences made of wire, bamboo and wood. These
corrals have no roofing and use only adjacent
trees for shade. The average area of these cor-
rals is 102 m2 with a cost of $75 (US). In addi-
tion there are pens for the rearing of cattle with
an average of six divisions whose fences are made
of three to four strings of barbed wire. Crop
area also is divided with barbed wire fences.
d. Fences. The total length of the fences within the
farms, including fences delineating the farm boun-
dary and those that form internal divisions, is an
average of 2,630 m. These fences are made with
three to four wires strung along posts which may
be either live wood fences (70%) or dead wood
e. Equipment. For pumping water from the wells, one
farm has an electric pump while the other two have
manual pumps. All of the farms have manual back-
pack sprayers for fumigation, with an average of
two sprayers per farm. One farm has, in addition,
one mechanical sprayer. Two of the farms studied
have one electric saw each. In terms of basic
tools, the farms studied have an average of five
machetes, three shovels, two axes, and simple
carpentry tools and equipment for the construction
Each farm has rudimentary equipment made of wood
for the purpose of pressing cheese. Drying of
corn and beans is accomplished with a piece of
canvass with an average size of 15 m2. The beans
are stored in plastic barrels.
Size and divisions of the farm. The farms studied have
an extension of 20 ha. However, occasionally the farmers
rent extra land either for growing corn or for fattening
cattle. This renting of land is considered by the farmer as
a secondary activity and is generally done in association
with other persons.
The 20 ha permanently available to the farmer are distri-
buted as indicated in Table 2. This information is in
agreement with that reported by M. Avila (personal communi-
cation, 1982), which, based on the results of 39 surveys
carried out in the Cariari zone, indicates that for farmers
who also raise cattle, the average area per farm is 19.5
ha. Within these farms the average extension of natural pas-
ture and improved pasture is 5.9 and 3.1 ha, respectively,
which gives a total of 9 ha in pastures. The average exten-
sion of perennial crops and annual crops, respectively, is
0.3 ha and 3.9 ha, which gives a total of 4.2 ha dedicated
TABLE 1. Characteristics of tne fanmly component, a case study of the corn-bean-
rice/dmal purpose cattle-swine system (Cariari, Gu~piles, Costa Rica,
-Aspect + 1/
Aspect X s. d. X 2/
Age (years): Parents 43 + 3 47
Children 13 4
Education : Parents 4 1
(years) Children 5 1 3
in Family 4 3 5
12 years of age 3 2
12 years of age 2 2
Male children 3 2
Female children 2 1
Gross total family 086041 31138 025.270
income per year3/ (US$ 4302 1 1556) (US$ 2.959)
1/ Data from the survey of three mixed systems.
2/ Data from a survey of 39 farms in the Cariari zone, by personnel from the
CATIE/BID Project (Avila, M., Personal Communication, 1982)
3/ The calculating of gross income only includes income arising from the sale
of corn, milk, cheese, bulls and pigs. In parenthesis the income in US
dollars using an exchange rate of 20 colonies per US dollar.
Table 2. Division of the farm in mixed corn-beans-rice/dual purpose cattle-pigs
(Cariari, GuSpiles, Costa Rica, 1982)
X S. D.
Total surface area (ha) 20 0
Surface area, in ha, dedicated to:
Cattle and horses 11 4.5
Corn 2.33 1.89
Beans 0.75 0.66
Rice 0.38 0.18
Pigs 0.83 0.29
Other (includes houses, barns, land 4.42 -2.77
in fallow, other crops such as
bananas, cacao, and vegetables)
Crop Production Subsystem
a. Spatial arrangement. Corn is planted as a mono-
culture, with a 1 m spacing between rows and be-
tween plants. The average area of planting is
b. Chronological arrangement. Usually, four crops of
corn are obtained from the small plot in the two-
year period (two plantings per year); afterwards,
the plot is left fallow and is then followed by
bean cropping or pasture. Planting and harvesting
dates for corn are:
Planting Planting date Harvest date
Early January May
Late August December
c. Management. The total growing season for corn
demands an average of 47 days of labor per ha.
Usually, 90% of this labor is family supplied
while the remaining 10% is hired labor.
Corn is sown manually and some fertilizer is used
to help establishment. Pests and weeds are con-
trolled with herbicides and other chemical pro-
ducts at rates that vary according to the availa-
bility of capital during the planting season and
the incidence of weeds and pests. These factors
complicate any attempt to assess the level of
utilization of chemical products.
d. Yield. The yield of corn depends on the planting
season. For instance, the late growing season
results in a 30% loss in yield with respect to the
early growing season. This is due to the detri-
mental effect of rains which are more copious in
the months of August to December (Figure 2).
The average yields of whole corn for the three
farms studied are:
Early planting 3,678 kg/ha
Late planting 2,730 kg/ha
As for crop residues, it was not possible to ob-
tain an assessment of the amount of corn stover
that was produced. In part, this was because
there is no definite trend in the way that this
residue is utilized; moreover, the farmer finds it
difficult to recall volumes and frequency of use
SEoly pion, ng
600 i LOI pDl.ng
L EIrly horveI
500 l .o ,v har, es ,
- -- err ur d / ^/ -2
25 1 00 I 2
S2 \ \ /
/ / `2
C I / -
7-, .5 25----^ / -----^ 2
J F M A M J J 0 N D
Fig 2 Chronological arrangement of monocullures of corn, rice and beans, in relation to rainfall pattern, relative humidty
0nd 2 r;peroture, in the area of Ccriri, Guopiles, Costo Rico (Mixed system of corn-beans-rice/d .l purpose
cattle0-Fis) Source: Climatic daol were loken from Burgos (1977).
*I F M fl M J A S O N'
Fi 2 hooo*a5rag m n fm nclue (crrc nd bos nrlto orifl olm tcttehmdt
end i.Terour~ in he reaot criui, uoples Colo Rco f.'nedsystm o con~bons-lcedja pupos
cattle-pi.s 24ra:Cioi oa w r tkn(onB ro 1 7 )
of the stover. Thus, one farmer allows his ani-
Smals to graze the stover and believes that this
practice is useful since his cattle show an
increase in milk production and an increase in
weight (factors which are not quantifiable since
the farmer only has a rough estimation). At the
same time, this farmer feels that grazing corn
residues is helpful in the clearing of the field
necessary for the preparation of the plot for the
next planting. However, the two other farmers pre-
fer to leave the harvest residues in the field in
order to use this organic matter as fertilizer,
thus maintaining a higher level of fertility in
c. Annual production and utilization of corn. Corn
is the principal commercial crop. Of an average
annual production of 14,405 kg of corn per farm,
the farmer uses an average of 3,100 kg per year
for human consumption and animal feeding. In addi-
tion, he separates approximately 100 kg of corn
for seed for future plantings. The remainder is
sold. The percentages of the use of the corn are
presented in Table 3.
The high variability in the average annual produc-
tion is due to the different sizes of the areas
planted by the farmers, which average 2.33 ha/
With respect to the use of the residues, as was
noted previously, there is no defined tendency and
this factor has not been quantified.
a. Spatial arrangement. Beans are planted as a mono-
culture, with an average spacing of 0.40 m between
rows and 0.15 m between plants. The average area
of planting on the farms studied is 0.75 ha.
b. Chronological arrangement. On an average, four
crops of beans are planted successively in a two-
year period (two crops per year) on the same
plot. These plots are usually plots which were
previously planted with corn or were left in fal-
Planting and harvesting dates for beans are:
Planting Planting date Harvest date
Early December March
Late August November
c. Management. During the total growing seasc- f-
beans, an average of 69 man-days of labor _- -
is used, of which a total of 90% is f -
supplied while the remaining 10% is hired L-_
The entire process is manual.
Fertilizers, herbicides, and other ner.ical
ducts are used to control pests and w-eeds; qua-
ties used depend on both the avaiiabi:itv of ca-
tal for the farmer during the grow:nc season -
also the incidence of pests and w-eeds.
quantification of the use of che-iczl roduce
d. Yield. The yield of beans varies .'ith the cla.z-
ing season, the late season resulting in apcrcx--
mately 30% loss in yield as com-areZ to the e-rL
planting. It is important to noce z-at beans as
crop have a much higher risk facz-r zhan dees
corn. The principal factor affecti:n- both crc-s,
especially in the late season ha-vest, is -h
advent of the rainy season, but heavy rains cause
much more damage to beans than to corn. Losses i
beans due to rain damage may be as much as 9C-.
This high risk factor is the reason for which he
farmer only plants beans for family consumpti-..
Consequently, the investment in z--hs cro is mii-
mal since a loss of harvest in a lar-er planting
could unbalance the farmer's econon-c situation.
The average yields of grain for the three farms
studied are as follows:
Early planting 1425 kg/ha
Late planting 976.5 kg/ha
The harvest residues are simply lefz unused and
are not quantified.
e. Annual production and the utilization of beans.
The bean crop is not commercial and ~s cultivated
only for family consumption and for seed for sub-
sequent crops. However, if at the end of the year
and after a good second harvest the farmer feels
that he has an excess, he will sell b-eans in small
quantities only to his neighbors. The amount of
these sales of excess beans is not quan ified.
The average annual production of beans for the
three farms is 1568 kg/farm. This quantity may
seem high for consumption by only one family in
one year, but it must be taken into consideration
that the farmer stores the product of one harvest
for up to three years as a protection against a
bad year in which, due to rain damage or other
problems, he may lose up to 90% of his bean har-
With respect to the use of his own beans for seed,
the farmer always saves more than he uses for
planting in the succeeding year. Normally the
farmer uses about 18 kg/ha for each planting.
Rice. Only two of the three surveyed farmers planted
a. Spatial arrangement. Rice is planted alone with
an average separation of 0.30 m between rows and
0.10 m between plants. The average area planted is
b. Chronological arrangement. Rice is planted once a
year in the month of April and harvested in
c. Management. The growing season for rice requires
an average of 49.5 man-days/ha. The labor is com-
pletely family-supplied. Herbicides and other
chemical products are used to control weeds and
d. Yield. The average yield for the two surveyed
farms which plant rice is 1866 kg/ha/year.
The harvest residues are reincorporated into the
soil as organic matter and are not quantified.
e. Annual production and utilization of rice. Rice
is not produced for commercial purposes but is
cultivated only for family consumption and seed
for subsequent use. The average production per
farmer is 806 kg/farm/year.
Other crops. Of the three farmers surveyed, one has
1.5 ha planted in cacao trees and is planning to add one
more hectare of cacao since he considers it a profitable
crop with easy marketing.
All three farmers grow 10 to 15 clumps of banana plants and
3 to 5 clumps of sugar cane.
Only one farmer grows vegetables; the other two farmers feel
that raising vegetables only causes problems. All raise
cassava on about 0.25 ha/farm, planted near the corn and
With respect to fruit trees, all have orange, grapefruit,
and lemon trees planted near their houses; similarly there
are "pejibaye" palm (Imilielna gapipaes), and coconut palm
(Coco nucifera), and scattered guava (Psidium guajav) trees.
An important forest crop is that of timber-yielding trees,
with an average of 250 scattered trees per farm. Of these
90% are laurel (Cordia alliodora).
Animal Production Subsystems
Cattle. The most important component of the animal
subsystem is cattle. The major characteristics of this com-
a. Breed. Cattle management is basically of dual-
purpose animals that are crosses of Brahman with
Brown Swiss. Avila (1982) reports that 72% are
beef cattle, 22%, dual-purpose cattle, and 6%,
b. Cattle population. On the farms studied there is
an average of 37 animals that are distributed as
shown in Table 4.
c. Management. Table 5 presents the utilization of
labor in cattle farming. The other aspects of
management are described as follows:
o Feeding. The feeding of adult cattle is
based on grazing and mineral salt supplemen-
tation. On one of the three farms surveyed,
the cattle are also fed with corn residues;
this farmer indicates that with one ha of
corn stover he can maintain five to eight
animals for one month while obtaining both
weight gain and an increase in milk produc-
tion. It was not possible to quantify this,
since in addition to the stover there was
also new growth of native grasses.
It was also noted that the cattle consumed
citrus fruits which had fallen to the ground
and banana skins given to them by the farmer.
The calves are fed with residual milk; they
remain with the mother an average of 5 hours
daily, in addition, have access to grazing
lands through the nursing period. The calves
are weaned at 6 months.
o Health. The animals are vaccinated twice a
year against Anthrax, Black Leg, and Septi-
cemia and are treated against external para-
sites every 2 months. These measures are
taken by the farmer himself. The Ministry of
Table 3. Utilization of the annual production of corn in mixed corn-bean-rice/
dual purpose cattle-pig systems (Cariazi, Guapiles, Coota Iica, 1902)
Sales 11,205 77.8
On farm consumption 3,100 21.5
Seed 100 0.7
TOTAL 14,405 1 11,808 100.0
Table 4. Cattle population in mixed corn-Lban-rice/dual purpose cattle-pig
systems (Cariari, Cu;iles. Costa Rica, 1982)
< 1 year
1 to 3 years
> 3 years
11 9 (being
6 7 (dry
Table 5. Use of labor in cattle in mixed corn-bean-rice/dual purpose cattle
pig systems (Cariari, Guipiles, Costa Rica, 19U2)
Weed clearing pasture land 40 10
Maintenance of fences 11.3 15
Milking 101 + 47
Cheese making 60 0
Vaccination 3.3 1.2
Agriculture has a program of vaccination
against brucellosis. Often there are cases
of mastitis and cattlegrubs (Dermatobia homi-
nis), which the farmer treats.
o Milking. Milking is done once daily, leaving
the residual milk for the calves.
o Grazing lands. The grazing lands are com-
posed of natural pastures. African stargrass
(Cynodon nlemfuensis) and "Ratana" (Ischaemum
ciliaris). For the area, Avila (1982) re-
ports that the botanical composition is 66%
natural pastures and 34% improved grasses.
The area dedicated to grazing averages 12.5
ha/farm. The pasture lands are managed on a
rotational basis with an average resting
period of 24 days, using three paddocks. Pas-
ture land is maintained by weeding with
machetes twice a year. Occasionally the far-
mer uses herbicides. The grazing lands are
The major problem with respect to the grazing
lands is the period of excessive rainfall,
during which trampling causes great damage
and loss of useful forage because of soiling
o Breeding. One breeding bull is used per
farm, and it is replaced every 3 years.
d. Aspects of productivity. Table 6 shows productiv-
ity data from the survey of the three farmers of
the mixed corn-bean-rice/ swine and dual-purpose
cattle system. Also presented are data from the
Cariari area reported by Avila (1982), which may
be used as an additional reference for those para-
meters which could be biased because they are
based on only three surveyed farms.
e. Average annual production. The average data for
the three farms are:
Milk: 13,426 1/year
Beef: 1,250 kg/year
f. Utilization of products. One of the principal
sources of income for the farmer stems from his
cattle operation, basically through the sale of
cheese. In two of the three farms studied, cheese
represents 63% of the gross income from the cattle
operation. Table 7 presents the way in which the
various cattle products are utilized.
Table 6. Biological indicators of productivity for cattle in mixed corn-bean-
rice/dual purpose cattle-pig systeRs (Cariari, Guipiles, Costa Rica,
Average for Average .for
mixed systems Cariari Area
Stocking rate AU/ha 2.25 1 2.6
Milk production (1/cow/day) 3.25 0.33 1.6
(months) 12 to 14 2/
Mortality (%) 0 :
Calving rate (%) 2/ 71
Age of first calving
(years) 2.5 0 2/
Marketing age of bullock +
(years) 2.17 0.29 2/
Marketing weight of bullocks (kg) 350 8G 2/
1/ Datareportedby Avila M. (Personal Com-unication, 1982), based on 39 surveys
2/ Data not estimated
Table 7. Utilization of animal products in a corn-bean-rice/dual purpose cattle-
pigs system (Cariari, Guapiles, Costa Rica, 1982)
Product Consumption Sales
1703 210 1/year
48 42 kg/year
7300 + 9656 1/year 2/
Only one farm 1/
sells 8 1/day
1250 878 kg/year
1/ This is the only farmer who does not produce cheese.
2/ Utilized for feeding pigs and chickens
Swine. Swine production is carried out for commercial
purposes. The following data from Avila, M. (personal com-
munication, 1982) give a frame of reference on swine produc-
tion in the Cariari area. In a survey of 39 farms in Cari-
ari, it was noted that 64% of the farmers raised swine, with
the average number of swine per farm being 7; 20% were
raised in confinement, 15% tied.up, and 65% loose.
The specific characteristics for the raising of swine in the
mixed corn-bean-rice/swine and dual-purpose cattle system
a. Breed. Swine raised on the surveyed farms were
mainly of the indigenous breed with a few cases of
crosses with Yorkshire.
b. Animal population. The average distribution of
swine was as follows:
Sows Boars Finishing pigs Weaners
1 1 3 4
This composition varies during the year as the
farmer buys young pigs for fattening when the
opportunity presents itself.
o Feeding. The swine are fed three times a day
with a ration composed of corn, whey, cooked
green bananas and ripe bananas. In addition,
on two of the three farms the swine have
access to pasture lands near the pens where
they are raised.
Of the various components of the ration, only
the bananas are produced outside the farm.
However, since the Cariari area is in a zone
with large banana plantations, the farmer is
able to take advantage of the culled bananas,
incurring only the expense of transportation
for this resource.
It has also been observed that the swine eat
the guavas which fall from the trees or which
are given to them by the farmer, but only in
o Health. Health practices are limited to
sporadic procedures to treat animals for
o Castration. This procedure is carried out on
all farms, sometimes by the farmer himself
and in other cases by some neighbor.
d. Productivity aspects. The following data provide
an assessment of the level of production:
Average age at first farrowing (months) 9
Number of farrowing per year 2
Number of pigs per farrowing 7
Marketing age (months) 11
Average weight at marketing (kg) 93
e. Animal production. The average animal production
for the three farms is 513 kg of meat on the hoof
f. Utilization of products. Of the three farms sur-
veyed, only one reported the slaughter of one hog
per year for family consumption. All other swine
are for sale.
The manure is incorporated into the soil, but this
is not a controlled process and consequently can-
not be quantified.
Chickens. Poultry production is on a small scale and
principally for family consumption. This activity is diffi-
cult to assess, since the chickens range near the house and
sleep in the nearby trees, laying their eggs in brushy areas
and under the houses.
a. Breed. The poultry are native breeds.
b. Animal population. The animal population was dis-
tributed in the following manner on average:
Adult hens 17
Hatching hens 3
Baby chicks 3
o Feeding. The chickens are fed corn and whey
but are also given leftover food from the
kitchen and range freely so that they also
eat insects, worms, and grass.
o Health. The chickens are sporadically
treated against parasites and when they be-
come sick are treated by the farmer.
d. Productivity aspects. The quantification of para-
meters for the production of chickens is diffi-
cult, since they range freely and the farmer him-
self has no idea what these parameters are. For
example, when a hen begins to brood, all the eggs
.from other hens are also put into her nest, thus
it is impossible to calculate the number of chicks
produced per hen.
e. Utilization of products. The meat and eggs pro-
duced are consumed by the farmer's family and,
occasionally, sold. An average of three 4-month
old chickens, weighing approximately 1 kg each,
are killed per month. Egg collection is irregular
and production is not counted because most eggs
are laid in the brushy areas around the house.
However, one farmer who owns 50 chickens indicated
that he collects about 60 eggs per week, of which
he sells 30.
a. Turkeys. One farm had three turkeys.
b. Ducks. One farm had three males and six female
ducks producing nine eggs per week for home use.
These ducks were raised together with the
c. Horses. The farm maintains an average of two
horses, which are used in the management of cattle
and to transport harvests from the field to the
house. These horses are raised in the same graz-
ing areas as are the cattle.
Interaction Between Crop-Animal Activities
Competitive interactions. When combined on the same
farm, crops and animals compete for resources such as land,
capital, and labor. Among other competitive interactions
observed in the mixed farming of corn-bean-rice/swine and
dual-purpose cattle are the following:
a. Competition among crops and animals for organic
material; when the corn stover or other crop resi-
dues are grazed, for example, they are no longer
available to be reincorporated into the soil and
soil fertility may be diminished.
b. Cattle may create problems of soil compaction,
thus causing problems for crop cultivation.
Complementary interactions. Complementary interactions
among animals and crops were observed in the following
a. Utilization of harvest products (corn, bananas,
etc.) as feed for animals, such as pigs and poul-
b. Utilization of harvest residues as feed for cat-
c. Reincorporation of animal manure into the soil,
thus creating an increase in soil fertility that
in turn, produces increased crop component yields.
d. Use of horses for transport of crop products.
e. Growth of trees on the pastureland protects the
soil from erosion, thus favoring the growth of
grasses and, consequently, cattle. However, in
this case, it must also be considered that the
trees, by their shading effect, may also have a
competitive effect on the growth of grasses.
Relative Importance of the Crop and Animal Subsystems Within
the Mixed Corn-Bean-Rice/Swine and Dual-Purpose Cattle
The relative importance of each subsystem, from the point of
view of the farmer's income, is variable. Thus, for two of
the three farms, the percentage of gross income from the
crop component was 37%, while the income from the animal
component was 63%. However, on the other farm the percen-
tage of gross income from crops was 79% and that from ani-
mals was 21%. This difference in the percentage of gross
income resulting from one or the other of the two major com-
ponents is due basically to the different emphasis placed by
each farmer on the cultivation of corn or the raising of
cattle since within the mixed systems studied, these two are
the components that compete most for the utilization of
land, capital, and labor.
The attitude of the farmer in dedicating more of his farming
activity to one or the other of these two components is, as
far as could be observed, based more on personal preference
than on technical criteria.
There are other criteria for analyzing the relative impor-
tance of different subsystems within a mixed system:
o If the question is looked at from the point of
view of "source of immediately available income,"
then animals become more important than crops
because they produce a daily income for the farmer
throughout the year. This income is produced with
less risk than an income produced by crops, where
occasionally the farmer may lose up to 90% of his
o From the point of view of "availability of foo;
for family consumption," corn, beans, rice, an:
milk would be the most important products.
o Another criterion for analyzing the relative
importance of each of the subsystems would be the
utilization of labor in each subsystem. Thus, it
was estimated that on the two farms in which the
largest percentage of the income was from animals,
47% of the total annual labor was dedicated to
crops, while the remaining 53% was dedicated to
animals. On the farm where the major percentage
of income was from crops, 94% of the total annual
labor was dedicated to crops, while only 6% was
related to the raising of animals.
In the present document, one criterion not considered in
analyzing the relative importance of the crop and animal
subsystems is that of cost-benefit analysis for the sub-
systems. This criterion was not used because the data given
by the farmers in the survey do not permit a realistic cost-
benefit analysis; none of the farmers maintain records or
wish to discuss the subject. The only manner of making a
cost-benefit analysis would be by following the activities
of the farms for periods of a year or more while maintaining
records of income and expenses.
Major Production Constraints
The most important constraints in the corn-beans-rice/swine
and dual-purpose cattle system are as follows.
Crops. For crops, the major constraint is the excess
of rain. Thus, the average rainfall at the time of the early
planting (January-May) is 283 mm/month, while at the late
planting season (August-December) rainfall may be 402 mm.
That is, when the second planting is started, it rains 43%
more than at first planting; this in turn explains the les-
ser yields of the second planting as compared to the yields
obtained from the early planting. Often the farmer may sus-
tain large crop losses due to prolonged heavy rains.
Bean crops are more affected by rains than are corn crops,
which is probably the reason why small farmers grow beans
only to meet the family needs and not for commercial pur-
poses since the risk of losses is too high.
Another limiting factor for cropping is represented by the
high cost of inputs forcing the farmer to an inconsistent
application of fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. The
use of these inputs varies according to day-to-day availa-
bility of cash; this, in turn, explains in part the highly
variable yields from one planting season to another.
With respect to pests, a persistent problem of corn is the
fall army worm (Spodoptera frugidperda); however, the farmer
takes the necessary steps to bring this problem under con-
trol. Bean plants suffer the attack of slugs (Vagimulus
sp.), whi-ch is usually controlled by the farmer. The far-
mers in the area have reported an ever-increasing incidence
of "malla" mold (Pseudomona phaseolicola) in beans, which
they do not know how to control--thus causing loss of inter-
est in this crop.
a. Cattle. Excess of rainfall will flood grazing
areas thus reducing grazing effectiveness.
The farmers consider that the size of their farms
is a limiting factor in animal production; they
feel that the- only way to increase their cattle
population is by expanding their holdings,
although they are not economically capable of
doing so. This viewpoint encourages extensiveness
in the cattle production subsystem rather than
Production inputs constitute another set of limit-
ing factors due to their high cost. Thus, few
farmers fertilize grazing areas or use commercial
feeds to improve the nutritional well-being of the
animals. A survey of 39 farms (Avila, M. personal
communication, 1932) Cariari (Avila, 1932) showed
that only 30% of the farmers fertilized grazing
paddocks, 18% used molasses, and 16% made use of
crop residues as feeds.
b. Swine. Swine production is limited basically by
scarcity of adequate feeds. Of the three most
frequently used feeds (bananas, corn, and whey),
corn is the most important qualitatively, but
least available, since the farmer has come to the
conclusion that it is not profitable to use corn
for swine unless the corn is of the noncommercial
quality. Therefore, the feeding of swine is based
mainly on the use of culled green bananas (abun-
dant and at low cost) and whey obtained from mak-
c. Chickens. As is the case of swine, poultry pro-
duction is limited by the availability of appro-
Another constraint to poultry husbandry is the
cost of housing; therefore, poultry are raised in
the open. This allows chickens, turkeys, and
ducks to fall prey to coyotes, and the eggs are
destroyed by rodents. According to the survey of
39 farms in Cariari (Avila, M., personal communi-
cation, 1982), 97% of all farmers let their
chickens range freely.
Constraints affecting cropping and animal production
a. Hand labor. The mixed systems of corn-beans-
rice/swine and dual-purpose cattle are located in
an area with large banana plantations, which are
the main employers of manual labor. This is a
serious problem to the farmer who may want to
intensify his production system but would have to
compete against the banana companies for labor and
pay high salaries.
b. Soils. The soils in the Cariari area are classi-
fied as being moderately fertile, but having sig-
nificant drainage problems that impose a limita-
tion to both crop and animal production.
c. Technical assistance. The opinion of the farmers
is that insufficient technical assistance is pro-
vided. Technicians assigned to the area are
inadequate in number and often poorly trained.
Some constraints to the commercialization of agricultural
products have been pointed out, including:
o Lack of means for the preservation or conservation
o Lack of milk collection and holding facilities in
o Lack of market outlets (neighborhood stores are
the only outlets now).
The factors mentioned above impede any efforts to improve
prices of farm produce and discourage increasing productiv-
These restrictions, and others of a technical nature, were
identified by Cariari farmers in a recent survey (Table 8).
Major Research Opportunities
Cariari, being a heavy-rainfall area, presents limitations
for the development of its dual-purpose cattle subsystem
because the excess of rain will not permit an efficient
grazing of pastures. Thus, it would appear that there may
be a need for the provision of cut forages. An alternative
is the use of crop residues, mostly from residues derived
from corn crops, since bean crops present serious pest and
disease problems. Rice, as well as beans, is grown in small
patches, mostly for home consumption.
Table 0. Constraints to cattle-based production systems in the area of Cariari
Guapiles, Costa Rical/
Constraints tn.' or1clem
Poor Pastures 54
Unimproved Animals 29
Poor Soil 9
Lack or excess of Water 8
Low Prices 81
Insufficient means of Transportation 15
Lack of Information 4
Expensive and scarce hand labor 59
Expensive and unavailable land 35
High-cost credit or difficulty in obtaining it 7
1/Unpublished farm diagnosis data, informed by Avila (1982)
Corn stover has limitations as a cattle feed. The most
important are a low voluntary intake (1.7 kg dry matter/100
kg live weight) and the low concentration of protein (4.0%)
that is not sufficient to meet maintenance requirements
(Ruiz and Lazarte, 1978). Among the alternatives for the
improvement of the nutritive value of the corn stover are an
earlier harvest (for the production of sweet corn) and the
association of corn with pulses or legume forages that do
not have the phytosanitary problems of the common bean
plant. Recent studies by Pezo and Espinoza (unpublished
results) have shown that the protein content of corn stover
increases when corn is grown in association with winged
beans (Psophocarpus tereagonolobus). Since the harvest of
corn does not coincide with the dry season, use of its resi-
due would be based on conservation as silage or hay.
Another alternative for improving the utilization of corn
stover is the use of this crop residue in conjunction with
leaves of cassava, which could be grown in association with
corn or as a monoculture and submitted to periodic
defoliation. Trials with the Valencia variety of cassava
indicate that it is possible to obtain yields of 9 metric
tons of DM/ha/year by defoliating every 3 months and without
affecting either the yield or the proportion of commercial
quality roots (Pezo, 1931). In contrast, in working with
the Japanese variety (Benavides et al., unpublished data),
frequent defoliation directly affects the root production.
Swine feeding is based on culled banana, whey, and the occa-
sional use of noncommercial-quality corn. With this kind of
ration, there is an obvious protein deficiency for both
finishing pigs and sows. Among the alternatives for
correcting this deficiency are the possible use of cassava
and also the use of leaves from trees that are used as liv-
ing fence posts, such as "Madero negro" (Gliricidia sepium)
and "Poro" (Erythrina poeppigiana). The leaves have been
shown to have protein content of 27-35% (Roldan, 1981).
Research is required on the agronomic management of these
species as fences and protein banks, plus their subsequent
utilization in the feeding of swine and cattle.
CORN-BEAN/DUAL-PURPOSE CATTLE SYSTEM
Zone of Study: Samulali, Municipality of Matagalpa, Nicara-
Treminio (1931) reports for the Samulali area:
a. Precipitation of 1500 mm is distributed between
May and November. The rains are described as
being bimodal, presenting peaks of precipitation
in June (290 mm) and October. Separating these
peaks is a short dry period of 10-15 days, gene-
Srally occurring between the last week in July and
the first week in August (Figure 3).
b. Cool temperatures with a mean temperature between
220 and 240C.
c. Subtropical rain forest vegetation with a relative
humidity ranging between 70% and 87%.
d. Altitude between 400 and 700 meters above sea
Predominant Characteristics of the Soil
Tremino (1981) reports that the soils in the Samulali area
have a very dark brownish-gray superficial layer (0-8 mm)
with a claylike texture, a secondary layer (3-65 mm) of
yellowish-red clay, and a third layer of abundant fine
The soils in this area belong to the taxonomical group of
alfisols and include Samulali and neighboring communities
covering an approximate area of 37,000 ha.
The majority of the cultivated soil in Samulali has a pH
level between 6.3 and 7.0, a variable level of phosphorus,
adequate potassium, and good drainage. Twenty-four percent
of the land has gradients varying between 0 and 5 degrees
and 34% of the land has gradients ranging from 5 to 20
Socioeconomic Profile of the Farmer's Environment
The following information is taken from CATIE (1979) and
a. Population. The community of Samulali has a popu-
lation of 2,604 with an average of six persons per
family. In the area of San Ramon, which includes
farming communities near Samulali, it was found
that only 5% of the population is urban.
In the active population, 94% of the men and 47%
of the women farm.
b. Size and tenure of the farms. The size of Samu-
lali is approximately 3,300 hectares, 2% of which
is tillage land, 1% is appropriate for pastures,
and 97% for forests. It must be kept in mind that
the farmers are cultivating crops on land that is
primarily intended for pastures and forests.
ii Early horvest
D Late hoivest-
* -- Temperolure
.-*-* Relioive humdty
-; .. . .. .. .. . /_
S 4 A 1
J V M A M
1 I I I 1 I
J J A S 0 N 0
Fig.3 Chronological orrangemeni of monocultures of corn ond beans in relation to rainfall pottem,
relative humidity and temperature in the oreo of Somulati, Mologolpo, Nicorogua (Mixed
system of corn- beans/dual purpose collie) Source:Climatic dato taken from CATIE 1979)
More than 90% of the area is privately owned. The
-mean size of each farm is 62 ha. However, this
area includes a few very large holdings that
affi-ct the mean fi i: Irn reality, the majority
of the fu-.cms are 2 to 3 bha in size.
Dbu to characteristically poor natural resources,
the majority of the farmers must intensify the use
of the land by double-crcpLinn in afc.r .'.-: wi th
the rainy season.
c. Manual labor and occupation. Seventy-five percent
of the farmers accomplish farm work by hiring man-
ual laborers. Eighty-three percent of the farmers
employ family members to do the work. Forty-three
percent exchange work with neighboring farmers.
d. Agricultural products and activity in the area.
In a survey of 40 farmers in the Samulali area
(CATIE, 1979) it was found that:
o Of the total land cultivated, 37% was planted
with beans, 32% with corn, 11% with coffee,
6% with citrus trees, 5% with sorghum, 4%
with plantains, 3% with grass and 1% with
mango, rice, and sugar cane.
o Every farmer (100%) plants corn while 97.5%
The survey on the mixed systems of corn-bean/dual-
purpose cattle indicates that 33% of the farmers
have cattle. Treminio (1931) reported that 22.7%
of the area is dedicated to agricultural produc-
tion. This author also showed that the yields for
corn, bean, and sorghum are 1,726, 789, and 773
kg/ha, respectively. These yields are lower than
e. Means of communication. The closest market for
agricultural products is 30 km away in Matagalpa.
An unpaved, all-weather road connects Samulali to
Matagalpa. There is a network of 10 km of unpaved
road within the community.
f. Public health. There is one hospital in Mata-
g. Credit system. The Institute for the Welfare of
Small Farmers (Instituto de Bienestar Campesino)
and the National Bank of Nicaragua (Banco Nacional
de Nicaragua) give financial aid to low-risk far-
h. Market. Six kilometers from Samulali is the
Nicaraguan Institute of External and Internal Com-
merce (Instituto Nicaraguense de Comercio Exterior
e Interior) which buys and stores grains. Thirty
kilometers distant lies the county seat of Mata-
i. Technical assistance. The Nicaraguan Institute of
Agricultural Technology (Instituto Nicaraguense de
Tecnologia Agropecuaria) and the Institute for
Small Farm Programs (Instituto de Programas Cam-
pesinos) give technical assistance to the far-
mers. CATIE, in cooperation with the Nicaraguan
Institute of Technology, also operates in the area
giving technical assistance.
j. Education. The community has two schools which
provide the children with the first 6 years of
Socioeconomic Regulating Subsystem
Family component. In Table 9, the family component is
described. Net income is estimated from sales of corn,
beans, milk, cheese, and livestock which are the only pro-
ducts in the mixed system serving commercial ends. However,
there is one farmer who has planted coffee for commercial
purposes, but the plantation has not yet entered its commer-
cial stage. In addition, the farmer has other income from
the sale of pigs, poultry, eggs, etc. This income has not
Houses, barns, corrals, and equipment.
a. Houses. The houses have an average construction
size of 43 m2 and are made of mud and cane walls
with straw or zinc roofing.
The houses are very poor. Only one house has
electricity. The average worth of these construc-
tions is estimated at $650 (US).
b. Barns. Of all farms surveyed, only one has a barn
of 20 m2 used for storage. On the other farms,
farm products are stored in the farmer's house.
c. Corrals. There are no pens for raising swine or
poultry. Farmers raising swine tie them up. Cor-
rals exist only for cattle. There is an average
of 6 lots per farm and each corral has three to
four strings of barbed wire fencing. The crops
are also divided by such fencing or, in some
cases, by stone fences.
Table 9. Characteristics of the family component: a case study of the corn-
bean/dual purpose cattle system (Samulali, Matagalpa, Nicaragua,
Characteristics X s.d.
Age : Parents 42 11
Children 11 5
Educational : Parents 2 2
(years) Children 3 3
Number of Family Members 7 2
Children over 12 years 2 2
Children under 12 years 3 2
Sons 3 1
Daughters 2 1
Net Family Income Per Year $ 62250 37379
US$ (3262 -1869)
1/ Only the income from sales of corn, beans, milk,
in the net income. In parenthesis the income in
rate of 20 c6rdobas per US dollar.
cheese, etc., is calculated
US dollars using an exchange
d. Fences. The total length of fencing on the farm,
including both fences delineating the farm boun-
dary and those which form internal divisions, is
an average 5,100 m. The fences are made with
three to four wires strung along posts, which may
be either live wood fences (50%) or dead wood
e. Equipment. The most important equipment is the
team of oxen and the plow. Of the three farms
surveyed, only two have their own team of oxen and
the third farm uses a rented team. The value of a
team of oxen is $500 (US).
Only one of the three farmers possesses a knapsack
spray fumigator; the other two use borrowed equip-
All the farms have an average of five hoes, five
"macanas" and a shovel. In addition each has
basic tools needed for carpentry and the
construction of fences.
Size and division of the farm. One of the farms stud-
ied measured 18.9 ha and the other two averaged 40.8 ha.
Table 10 shows how the land was distributed.
Crop Production Subsystem
a. Spatial arrangement. Single crops are planted
with an average distance of 0.80 and 0.65 m be-
tween furrows. The average land cultivated is 2
b. Chronological arrangement. Crops are planted once
yearly in the same terrain. Sowing is in May and
harvesting is in October.
c. Management. An average of 59.8 days of manual
labor are required to cultivate the land. This
represents 30%-50% of the hired manual labor and
50-57% of the family labor.
The entire process, with the exception of the plow
drawn by oxen, is manual. In planting corn, all
three farmers use fixed quantities of fertilizers:
140 kg/ha of urea and 140 kg/ha of complete for-
mula. Few pesticides are used.
d. Yield. In the farms studied, the average yields
o Grains--3,660 kg/ha
o Crop residues: Observations show that it is
possible to graze 40 animals for 8 days on 2
ha indicating that 1 hectare of corn stubble
is sufficient to maintain one animal for 160
days. However, in any given area of corn
residues, there are always native grasses
e. Annual production and utilization of corn. Corn
is the principal commercial crop. Average annual
production is 7,399 kg/farm and it is used as
shown in Table 11.
a. Spatial arrangement. Beans are sown at an average
of 20 cm apart. The average area sown on the
farms in the study is from 0.4 to 1.5 ha.
b. Chronological arrangement. Crops are planted
twice yearly. Planting and harvesting are as fol-
Sowing season Harvest season
Early planting May August
Late planting September November
c. Management. During the entire process of bean
cultivation, an average of 69.4 days/ha of labor
are required. This represents from 30-50% of the
hired manual labor.
Except for the use of the oxen-drawn plow, the en-
tire process is manual. Only one of the three
farmers fertilizes with 140 kg of urea per hectare
and 140 kg of complete formula. Few pesticides
d. Yields. Rain affects bean yield and, as a result,
the last yield is generally 30% lower than the
first yield. Bean cultivation is riskier than the
cultivation of corn with rain being the influen-
tial factor. A heavy rain can result in the loss
of 90% of the bean harvest. The risk of losing
crops due to heavy rainfall is perhaps the main
reason why farmers prefer not to fertilize. The
average yields on the farms studied are as fol-
Farm 1 Farms 2 and 3
Fertilized 1996 kg/ha -
Not fertilized 564 kg/ha
o Crop residues. Crop residues are left in the
field where cattle can graze. The farmer
believes this to be a good food source.
These residues have not been quantified.
e. Annual production and utilization of beans. The
average bean production per year for the three
farms is 2898 kg. Beans are cultivated for both
private and commercial purposes (Table 12).
Other crops. Among other crops encountered in mixed
systems, the most important is coffee combined with plan-
tain, which was found on one of the three farms surveyed.
This crop covers 3.5 ha and, at present, has not reached its
productive stage. On all three farms citrus trees (orange,
grapefruit, lemon) are found planted around the houses. One
of the farmers plants cassava in small plots of less than
Wild bushes grow freely in the pastures. Two of the three
farms have forests not exceeding 6 ha in size. From these
forests, farmers obtain needed wood for farm use.
Animal Production Subsystem
Cattle. The most important component in this system is
cattle. The characteristics of the component are:
a. Breed. The animals are Brahman-Brown Swiss cross-
bred to be used in dual-purpose systems.
b. Animal populations. On the three farms there is
an average of 25 animals distributed as shown in
c. Management. The use of manual labor in this com-
ponent was estimated at 96 days per year needed to
clear pastures and 43 days per year needed to tend
In other activities such as milking, cheese mak-
ing, and health control, it was estimated that an
annual average of 150 days of manual labor were
needed. Other management activities are described
o Feeding. The feeding of adult animals con-
sists of pasture and mineral salts. On the
three farms studied, animals are grazed on
corn and bean residue, eating both the crop
residues and new grass sprouts. The farmer
considers this to be the best way to maintain
Table 10. Farm division in mixed system corn-kean/duia purposes cattle
(jnmul*li, HatagalmL, Nicaragua, 1982)
Size of farm (ha)
Total land (ha) dedicated to:
Cattle and horses
Corn and Bean 1/
Coffee and Plantain 2/
Faris 1 and 3
X t s.d.
ii Corn and beans are crown in thl ramein :,oil ut in different seasons
2/ Plantains are used as snades tor the > ffeu trees.
3/ In this are included land occupied by construction, forests or fallow land.
Table 11. Ut-ilization of annual corn production in mixed _systex n corn-tk-an/
dual purpose cattle (Simul.at, 1 Mitwqalji, i Nicara.gua 1902), ko/l. rn
Use X s.d.
Sale 6338 1981 85.7
Farm Consumption 1/ 1026 + 291 13..9
Seeds 33 15i 0.4
Total 7399 : 2141 100.0
1/ Consumed by pigs and poultry.
Table 12. Utilization of annual bean production in corn-blxan/dual purpose cattle
systems (Sanulall, Mataqalpa, Nicaragua, 1982), kq/farm
Use X s.d. %
Sale 2,37U 305 82.0
Farm Consumption 347 114 12.0
Seeds 173 50 6.0
TOTAL 2,898 3159 100.0
Calves are fed residual milk and remain an
average of 8 hours daily with their dams.
During nursing, the calves also have access
to pastures. Calves are weaned at 6 months.
o Herd health. Animals are vaccinated twice
yearly with a triple vaccine (Anthrax, Black
Leg, Septicemia). They are dipped for exter-
nal parasites every 15 days. Farmers have
difficulty with cattle grubs (Dermatobia hom-
inis) because the medicine used has not
proven to be effective. Herd health measures
are carried out by the farmer.
o Milking. _Cows are milked once daily by hand.
o Pastures. Pastures consist of Jaragua grass
(Hyparrhenia rufa) and native grasses. Avila
and Salazar (1932) report that of all the
pastures in the Matagalpa area, 93% are
improved pastures, 0.8% pastures for cutting,
and 6.3% native pastures. Jaragua grass is
shown as an improved grass.
The area used for pastures varies. One far-
mer has 11.9 ha with five paddocks averaging
2.3 ha each which are used in rotational
grazing periods of 40 days. There are 1.6
animals/ha. The other two farmers assign an
average of 32.6 ha to pastures, which are
divided into six or seven paddocks that aver-
age 5.4 ha each. The pastures are used in
rotation with a rest period that varies and
can be as long as 52 days. On these farms
there is an average of 81 animals. Pastures
are not fertilized.
o Breeding. Breeding is natural. There is one
bull per farm and he is changed every 3
d. Aspects of productivity. The data in Table 14 are
a result of the survey taken of the three farmers
having the mixed system of corn-bean/dual-purpose
cattle. Also presented are the data collected
from the Matagalpa area as reported by Avila and
Salazar (personal communication, 1932). Those
parameters were estimated only on the basis of
three surveys and could therefore be biased.
e. Average yearly production. The average production
data for the three farms are:
Milk 6249 1/year
Beef 1110 kg/year
Table 13. CaLLte populIationl in mixed sy!;LteC corn-be.n/dual purpose cattle
syLtems (SamuLal, Mataljaldp, Nicarjiluj, 19U2)
< 1 yedr 1-3 years > 3 years
Males 4 + 3 0 3 2/
Females 1 2 10 13 5 3
5 3 (dry)
2/ Includes two oxen.
Table 14. lliolclical indicators of cattle production in a mixed system of corn-
bern/dual purpose cattle (Samulali, Mataqalpa, Nicaragua, 1982)
Average for Average for
Parameter Mixced Systems Mataqalpa Area 1/
Milk production 2.8 0.8 .2.0
Age at first calving
(years) 3 35 2/
(months) 12 18 2/
Mortality 0 26 0
Calving rate 2/ 2/
Marketing age 14 18 2/
(kg) 1lU-200 2/
1/ Data reported by Avila and Salazar (personal communication, 1982)
2/ Data unavailable
f. Utilization of products. One of the main sources
of farm income is the sale of milk or cheese.
Such sales can represent as much as 20% of the
farm income. It is possible for milk to represent
37% of the net income and the sale of meat to
represent 15%-30% of the net income. Table 15
shows how cattle products are used.
a. Horses. The farms have an average of two horses
each that are used for cattle management and as
beasts of burden to transport harvests from the
field to the house.
b. Swine. Swine production has no commercial pur-
pose. A maximum of three pigs was found on one
farm where they were tethered. Their feed consists
of whey and wastes. In this area, farmers do not
consider it profitable to feed corn to swine and
so they feed them only corn wastes.
c. Poultry. Poultry are raised on a small scale and
basically for family consumption. One of the
farms had only five chickens while the other two
farms had an average of 20 chickens.
Interactions in Crop-Animal Activities
a. Competitive interactions. From the moment that
the cultivation of crops and cattle co-exists on
the same farm, there is a competition for land
resources, capital, and manual labor. Other com-
petitive interactions in the corn-bean/dual-
purpose cattle system are:
o The competition between crops and animals for
organic material. Animals consume crop resi-
dues and hence such residues are not reinte-
grated into the soil. This can cause a
decrease in soil fertility.
o Animals compact the soil and make cultivation
b. Complementary interactions. Crops and livestock
are complementary in the following cases:
o Use of corn products to feed poultry and
o Use of crop residues as feed for cattle.
o Reincorporation of animal wastes to the soil
to increase soil fertility and increase crop
o Use of oxen to plow the fields.
o Use of horses to transport the harvests.
o 0 -- of trees in pastures to protect the soil
from erosion and favor the growth of grasses
for livestock 'cnsLint.io.. However, trees
generally used for oaade compete with grasses
for soil nutrients.
Relative Importance of the Crop and Livestock Subsys te:-,
Within the Mixed Corn-Bean/Dual-Purpose Cattle System.
From the point of view of net incomes, the relative impor-
tance of each subsystem varies. In one of the farms stud-
ied, the percentage of income from crops and livestock is
65% and 35%, respectively; in another, 51% and 49%, respec-
tively; and on the third farm, 35% and 65%, respectively.
Whether a farmer devotes himself to raising livestock or not
depends on either a personal preference or the amount oL
appropriate land available. It is the opinion of the tfar-
mers that a large part of the land is rocky, which makes
The criteria for analyzing the relative importance of a
number of subsystems were mentioned previously. Those com-
ments are equally valid for the corn-bean/dual-purpose cat-
Major Production Constraints
The most important restrictions within the mixed system of
corn-bean/ dual-purpose cattle are the following:
Crops. Soil is the most limiting factor in the culti-
vation of corn and beans. The farmers indicate that most of
the soil is rocky and makes cultivation difficult.
Another factor is the amount of available capital since com-
mercial planting is almost totally dependent upon credit.
This implies that a farmer plants for commercial purposes
only when someone will finance him. As a result, the far-mer
chooses not to cultivate large extensions of land.
Weeds and pests are among the biotic factors that most
affect the productivity of the system. According to CATIE
(1977) the weeds occurring most frequently in the fields
are: Bidemaplilopa, Agoratum comypoides, Elvira biflora,
Roftboellia esaltada, Eulepine inolica and Digitarla sp.
The traditional practices used by the farmer appear to ade-
quately control weed growth.
The following pests have been found: Spodoptera frugiperda,
which affects corn; Ceroforma sp. and Diabrotica sp., which
affects beans; and Phyllophaga sp., which affects both
Of major importance is Sitophillup sp., which affects stored
corn. Under "Trojas" conditions, 30% of the corn crop can be
a. Cattle. Seasonal rains constitute a very impor-
tant factor; in the dry season it could be neces-
sary to decrease the number of cattle or to pro-
vide a supplemental feed supply.
Just as in crops, most cattle farms operate on
borrowed money. One factor that limits increased
cattle production is high operational costs. A
case in point: one farmer neither fertilizes nor
uses concentrate feed as both are so costly.
With respect to animal health, one of the most
serious current problems the farmer must confront
is Dermatobia hominis (cattle grub). The farmer
feels that current medicines are not effective for
long and that the problem is increasing.
b. Swine and chickens. The raising of swine and
chickens is limited by the high cost of feed and
the inability to build proper facilities for
them. None of the three farms studied has facili-
ties for raising small animals.
Constraints affecting cropping and animal production
simultaneously. The mixed production system in the Samulali
area has mainly economic restrictions. It has been noted
that the farmer has a very low standard of living and
although he has land, he lacks the necessary capital to work
it. Upon deciding to borrow money, the farmer faces other
problems such as the lack of responsibility and the ineffi-
ciency of manual laborers. Added to these factors is the
lack of technology.
The principal restrictions are:
a. The lack of means to preserve products.
b. The lack of transportation which forces the farmer
to sell his products on his farm where the best
price is not always guaranteed.
The above mentioned restrictions serve as a frame-
work for the following tables (Tables 16, 17, and
18) which present the results of 40 interviews
taken from Treminio (1931).
Table 15. Annual use of animal products; in mixed sycstcm of corn-bean/dual
purpose cattle (Samulali, Matagalpa, Nicaragua, 1982)
1581 421 I/year
246.5 115 kg/year
3485 696 I/year
Only one farm sells 9 1/day
338 244 kg/year
1110 593 kg
"lble 16. Basic grain production limitations and reasons according to 40 farmers
interviewed in Samulali, Matagalpa, Nicaragua, 1980.1/
Corn Beans Sorghum Rice
Number of farmers
interviewed 100 100 15 5
Percentage of farmers
who don't produce more
Satisfied with present situation 12.5 10.0 5.0
Lack of land 42.5 42.5 2.5 2.5
Low prices 5.0 2.5 2.5
Lack of financing 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5
Natural risks 2.5 5.0
1/ Source: Treminio (1981).
table 17. 40 Parners' opinion on the utility of and use of various inputs in
basic grains (Samulali, Matagalpa, Nicaragua, 1980) 1/
Opinion, % of farmers
l i mproves yield Does not
Agricultural input improve
Improved seeds 85.0
Insecti- d-s 25.0
1/ Source : Treminio (I il)
Why more is not used, %
Too expensive Lack of Money
Table 18. Allocation of additional resources based on the opinion of 40 farmers
from Samulali, Matagalpa, Nicaragua, 1980 1/
Additional resources and nronortion of farmers who would do so
Allocation to: Land Manual Labor Cauital
Basic graiinis 22.5 22.5 25.0
Basic grains and.coffe 17.5 20.0 15.0
Coffee 22.5 30.0 25.0
Cattle 17.5 15.0 15.0
Coffee and Cattle 2.5 2.5 2.5
1/ Source : Treminio (1981).
Ta'se. 1 indicates how the farrme' wole allocate more natu-
ral re;s :.r.es if he had them available
Major Research Opportunities
In the case of Matagalpa (a tropical ..o."?- zone with a dry
period of approximately 3 months), \aal able pasture is
limited and, consequently, energy a: protein sources for
dual-purpose cattle are limited, in spte cf tihe use of crop
residues from the corn and beans pr.;ce i: the area.
Bean residues have a limited protein conte-n (4.5%) but are
consumed on the order of 2.6 kg of DM:. 0 ka live weight
(Lozano et al., 1980) as a consequence of a rapid ruminal
degradiation (Medina, 1980) and selectivit-, in avor of the
bean pods (Ruiz et al., 1930). It has been shown that cat-
tle can maintain their weight with diets cased exclusively
on wet bean straw (Lozano et al., 190). An attempt to
intensify production with diets based :o bea: straw or corn
stover would require the use of su'ple' ::en ary protein
In Matagalpa, as in the case of Ca'iari, living fence
foliage and cassava foliage are reasonable options for for-
age. Another possibility for providing forage with a high
quality of structural carbohydrate during the dry period is
the use of pseudostems from banana or other masaceous plants
present on some farms as shade for coffee trees. The most
important limitations to be considered in the use of this
resource are its low protein content (2.4%) and its high
water content (93%), which limit maximum consunmtion to 1.33
kg DM/kg 100 live weight (Pezo and Fanola, 1930; Martinez et
al., 1930). The protein limitation could probably be cor-
rected by the use of the protein sources previously men-
tioned; however, there would be a need to clarify the effect
on animal production of this high water content material
with drier crop residues such as those found in the Mata-
Avila, M. et al. 1930. Analisis de sistemas de production
del pequeno productor. Documento presentado en el
curso de proyectos de Desarrollo Rural del Banco Mun-
dial realizado en Turrialba del 7 de julio al 5 de
septiembre de 1930. CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica.
Burgos, C. 1977. Descripcion de los sistemas de cultivo y
algunas caracteristicas los agricultores de Guapiles,
Pococi, Costa Rica. Documento presentado en la reunion
International de Colaboracion Tecnica CATIE-CIAT-
CIMMYT-IICA celebrada en Turrialba del 2 al 3 de junio
de 1977. CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica. 22 p.
Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensenanza.
1977. Descripcion de una alternative para el mejora-
miento del sistema maiz-frijol en relevo practicado por
los pequenos agricultores de la comunidad de Samulali,
Nicaragua. CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica. 73 p.
Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensenanza.
1979. Descripcion de una alternative para sistema cul-
tivo maiz-maiz practicado por los agricultores de
Pococi y Guacimo, Costa Rica. CATIE, Turrialba, Costs
Rica. 135 p.
Hart, R. D. 1979. Agroecosistemas: Conceptos basicos.
CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica. 211 p.
Lazarte, U. M. y M. E. Ruiz. 1978. Evaluacion preliminary
de la calidad nutritiva de rastrojo de maiz (Zea mays
L. ) picado a diferentes tamanos. CATIE, Turrialba,
Costa Rica. (Mimeograph).
Lozano, E., M. E. Ruiz, y A. Ruiz. 1980. Desarrollo de
subsistemas de alimentacion de bovinos a base de ras-
trojo de frijol ( Phaseolus vulgaris, L.) III. Produc-
cion de came. Turrialba 30(2): 153-159.
Martinez, L., M. E. Ruiz, y D. Pezo. 1980. Consumo y
digestibilidad del seudo tallo de banano bajo diferen-
tes niveles de suplementacion energetic. Produccion
Animal Tropical 5(1): 87.
Medina, R. I. 1980. Tasa de digestion y digestibilidad
potential ruminal de materials fibrosos en function de
niveles de almidon suplementario. M.S. Thesis. UCR/
CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica. 69 p.
Pezo, D. 1931. Manejo agronomico de la yuca (Manihot escu-
lenta, Crantz) var. Valencia como cultivo de double pro-
posito. In Programa Cooperativo Centroamericano para
el Mejoramiento de Cultivos Alimenticios, 27a. Reunion
Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana. Memorias. pp.
Pezo, D. y A. Fanola. 1980. C6mposicion quimica y digesti-
bilidad in vitro del seudo tallo y hoja de banano y
platano. Produccion Animal Tropical 5(1): 36-87.
Rockenbach, O. C. 1981. Analisis dinamico de dos sistemas
de finca predominantes en el canton de Turrialba, Costa
Rica. M.S. Thesis UCR/CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica.
Roldan, G. 1981. Degradacion ruminal de algunos forrajes
proteicos en function del consume de banano verde suple-
mentario. M.S. Thesis. UCR/CATIE, Turrialba, Costa
Rica. 72 p.
Ruiz, M. E., R. Olivo, A. Ruiz, y J. Fargas. 1980. Desar-
rollo de subsistemas de alimentacion de bovinos con
rastrojo de frijol (Phaseolus vulgaris, J.). I. Dis-
ponibilidad, composicion y consumo del rastrojo de fri-
jol. Turrialba 30 (1): 49-55.
Treminio, C. A. 1981. Evaluacion economic y factibilidad
de opciones technological para producer granos basicos,
en pequenas fincas de Samulali, Nicaragua. M.S.
Thesis. UCR/CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica. 170 p.
C II C OG
0I ___ cqoe *r.>,ta II
-C-osI a n.... C
0--- B o
MIXED SYSTEM CORN-BEN. -R',E/Dual purpose cattle-pigs
Diagram of the mixed system corn-beons-rice /dual purpose catlll for Ihe Coriori, Guopilesi Cosla Rico) aoeo.The circles
represent inputs, the arrc.s outside thesystem signify oulpuls, he "Icnks" mean storage, broken lines represent cash (lox,
solid lines represent flow of energy ornd materials and the rombolds imply a decision maklr. process
TABLE 1A THE CALCULATION OF RET INCXE/YARM/YEV R FO TIIREE MIXED SYSTEMS CORN-BEAN-RICE/
DUAL PURPOSE CATTLE PIGS (CARIARI, GUAPILES, OOSTA RJCA, 1982)
Income in colons
Income in colons
Income in colons
PIGS NET INCOME PER
FARM PER YEAR
0 500 kg
TABLE 2& CALCULATION OF NET ICCHE/FArM/YFAR FOR THREE MIXED SYSTEMS CORP-BEAN/DOAL PURPOSE
CAn.LE (SAMUIALI, MATwrAIPA, NICARAGUA, 1902)
NET INCOME PER
FARM PER YEAR
C$ 65250 3739
($ 3262 1869)