How Aztec Farming Could Work Today

An ancient Aztec agricultural technique could benefit 21st century horticultural needs, says the American Society for Horticultural Science. The Aztecs used chinampas or floating gardens, which were raised fields on small artificial islands on a freshwater lake, usually surrounded by canals and ditches, where vegetables can be produced throughout the year. The researchers at the Montana State University have found that irrigation needs of chinampas was low and the productivity extremely high. In a chinampa, the canal water rises through capillary action to the plant roots, which reduces irrigation demand. Additionally, a considerable portion of the soil fertility is generated in the canal floors. In addition, the recreational benefits are tremendous: Today, chinampas generate even more money from tourism than by horticultural production.

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