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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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---continuation commentary #16d----

These periods of rotation range from six to thirty or more years. If a farmer cannot expect any youthful forest growth in a place for many years, and so thinks that the ground is entirely exhausted, so far is he from aiding it by manuring, that overall neither the plow is used nor manuring practiced in their mode and system of agriculture. For the care of herd animals in these places distinguished by the richness of their forests is extremely limited, and from the plow shrink both the settlers and their black slaves, who do not know even the slightest about the plow's use or how draft animals serve man with this useful instrument. 

Indeed, things stand in the same miserable condition in which agriculture in Portugal itself remains stuck. For you could justly say that there, as much as in Brazil, proper agriculture has not progressed at all beyond A. Herrera, the most respected agricultural authority in Spain. The belief of the middle ages about the tempers of the elements still now has force there, so that you very often hear in Brazil that the air there indeed possesses a warm temper, but that the earth's is cooler, so that it cannot provide continuous nutriment to plants for very long, and also that no human art can free the soil from this inborn torpor. For while, in those realms of Europe that stand out for the best land cultivation, we see the dictum "knowledge is power" proven almost everywhere, and that the rustic there compels, as it were, the earth's clods to produce plentiful harvests, Brazilian cultivators, relying upon both the amount of land and the richness of the soil, procure for themselves only those things that are most necessary, and are generally versed only in determining the nature of the soil and the crop for which it is most appropriate.

Etching 16 Cut forest from Martius's Flora Brasiliensis 1840. Thanks to Lehigh U., Special Collections ! Color by  C. Miranda Chor

They recognize "Massape", a rich, black, thin earth, fairly fertile, holding a fair amount of moisture; and "Salao", a firm soil, pliant with iron oxide, more or less reddish, and argillaceous; further, "Apicu", as the inhabitants are accustomed to call that thin shoreline mud, vomited, so to speak, onto the shore and deposited by the movements of the sea, whitish in color, very well suited for the moulds into which sugar is poured, as well as for other uses. Next, a dry, sandy, thin soil, "Areisco" is recognized as being less favorable to cultivation. And then, distinct one from another, are places called "Vargems" or "Varzeas", which generally contain a rich, blackish, clayey soil mixed with sand; "Tabuleiros", as the settlers know the dry, elevated areas covered with grass or scattered trees; and finally, different kinds of fields or, rather, cleared places, "Rocas", that have come into existence, sometimes when ancient forests, "Catete", or cut forests, "Capoeira", and sometimes when "Catingas" or groves,"Capoes", have been burned clear.

Etching commentary 16d