Subsurface-firing agriculture is one of the primitive ancient systems of agriculture in the forest zone, based on burning the forest and planting cultivated plants on this site. The place of deforestation and burning of the forest during slash-and-burn agriculture in Russia was called the scum . In the case of burning not of forests but of grasses (in the steppe regions), the more general term “ shift farming ” is also used  , by the name of fallow - land not cultivated for a long time in order to restore productivity. With a long period of fallow, this method of farming is characterized by a rather high productivity per unit of the cultivated area. However, due to the fact that at any given moment a large part of the territory is under fallow, the total land productivity for this type of agriculture is extremely low.
Trees were cut down in the forest or they were chopped, the bark was cut to dry. A year later, the forest was burned and sown directly in ash , which is a good fertilizer. The following eco-economic cycle was typical for the forest strip of Eastern Europe: from 1-3 to 5-7 years, crops were sown on the cleared area, then they were used as hayfields or pastures (optional phase, up to 10-12 years), and after the cessation of economic activity after For 40-60 years, the forest was restored. Burning root-dried trees without chopping (but only peeling the bark to cambium ) increased the described cycle by 10-15 years  . The field after the fire gave a good harvest for the first year without cultivating the land; then it was required loosening the site with hand tools. In the secondary forest zone, a bush and even a swamp , turf were burned out . This form of agriculture requires changing the place of settlement from time to time.
Slash-and-burn farming was widespread in the deciduous forest zone of both Europe and Asia from the Neolithic era; in the mountain and northern taiga forests of the temperate zone, it persisted among some Slavic and Germanic peoples until the middle of the XIX century . In southern Europe, it became obsolete already at the beginning of the 19th century, however, in areas such as the Ardennes mountains or on the island of Corsica , it existed until the middle of the 19th century. It persisted until the middle of the XIX century and in a wide zone of forests of North America, not only among the indigenous population of America , but also among some European immigrants.
Varieties of slash-and-burn agriculture with tropical cultures are now widespread in Central Africa (the “ chitamen ” system among the Bantu peoples), Southeast Asia (“ Ladang Berpindas ” among the Malays , etc.), Oceania (among the Papuans of New Guinea , etc. .), among the Indians of South and Central America (" milp "), etc.
For example, in Africa, men cut branches from trees with knives, and women lay them (along with dry grass and shrubs) in a thick layer on the field. After burning, before the rains, they make landings, surrounding the site with a massive hedge. Mixed crops of cereals ( millet ), legumes and root crops predominate. Millet in the second year is replaced by peanuts , in the third year legumes prevail. In the mountain tropical forests near the Papuans of New Guinea, logging and clearing of the site was carried out with stone axes and wooden hand-paddle guns. Crops are fenced off from wild pigs . Crops of cultivated plants are usually mixed.
In the past 40-50 years, due to the growing world population, especially in developing countries , and the lack of farmland to support the needs of a growing population, tropical forests reduced to sowing are most often not restored. Maintaining crop yields in a cleared area is achieved either through the use of fertilizers available in the area, or the site is subsequently used for pasture, which ultimately leads to desertification  . According to ecologist Norman Myers , slash-and-burn agriculture is the main cause of deforestation in tropical regions (54% of forest losses)  .
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