Dynamic agroforestry systems [Bolivia, Plurinational State of]

Sistemas agroforestales dinámicos o sucesionales (Safs)

technologies_513 - Bolivia, Plurinational State of

Completeness: 88%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Declaration on sustainability of the described Technology

Is the Technology described here problematic with regard to land degradation, so that it cannot be declared a sustainable land management technology?


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Dynamic agroforestry systems are highly diversified farming systems which go through the different phases of the natural succession, from pioneer plant dominated stages up to primary trees dominated stages, were the different strata are used for different crops, and where pruning and selective weeding enhances the dynamic development of plant synergies.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


The approach is different from simple agroforestry because it makes use of the different strata and stages of natural succession which it mimicks with crops and native plants that accumulate biomass and create shade and enabling conditions while crops are small. Main activities are pruning and selective weeding. Managing such a system requires a profound knowledge of locally adapted crops and the local vegeation, and also of plant growth dynamics. There is no general recipe as a dynamic agroforestry system looks different in each place, but there are universal agroecological principles such as the natural succession stages and biodiversity. Dynamic agroforestry is like other agroforestry systems useful to implement an efficient land-use system which does not necessarily degrade soils, water sources and biodiversity, while producing different goods (food, feed, construction material, medicines....) at different times of the year. Dynamic agroforestry have the specialty that the pioneer plants produce already in the first year (e.g. rice or corn), so that a hunger gap can be avoided until the main crop (e.g. cocoa) starts producing after several years. There is a long history of capacity building, field trials and farmers own experiments in different ecoregions of Bolivia. Farmer-to-farmer trainings have been used as well as NGO-led projects to install plots on farmers' lands. In Bolivia, different groups of farmers and NGOs started to use dynamic agroforestry after courses by Ernst Götsch from Brazil in Alto Beni in Bolivia with cocoa agroforestry systems in the 1990s. From there the knowledge spread constantly through different people experimenting, mainla in the sub-humid lowlands of the Amazon Basin, but also in semi-arid regions around Cochabamba. Today there are many exchanging events with interested farmers and experts fom other countries, and a larger dynamic agroforestry project in Cote D'Ivoire. There is also an annual international one-week course on dynamic agroforestry taking place in Bolivia led by the NGO Ecotop. NGO founders from different parts of the world who have long been living in Bolivia and manage agroforestry farms themselves have been playing an important role in advancing the approach by organizing courses and events, some scientists have conducted research on soil fertility, yields, pests and diseases, and many farmers have long-standing experience from experiments with dynamic agroforestry on their land.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment


Bolivia, Plurinational State of

Region/ State/ Province:

Alto Beni/La Paz

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • applied at specific points/ concentrated on a small area

Implemented by "lighthouse" farmers, and participants of projects

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • 10-50 years ago

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • during experiments/ research
  • through projects/ external interventions
Comments (type of project, etc.):

Exchange with agroforestry farmers from other places (e.g. Ernst Götsch, Bahia Brazil)

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • improve production
  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation
  • conserve ecosystem
  • protect a watershed/ downstream areas – in combination with other Technologies
  • preserve/ improve biodiversity
  • adapt to climate change/ extremes and its impacts
  • mitigate climate change and its impacts

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping
  • Perennial (non-woody) cropping
  • Tree and shrub cropping
  • rice, corn
Tree and shrub cropping - Specify crops:
  • cacao
  • citrus
  • papaya
  • banana
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 1

Annual crops are grown in the rainy season

Forest/ woodlands

Forest/ woodlands

Products and services:
  • Timber
  • Fuelwood
  • Fruits and nuts
  • Other forest products
  • Protection against natural hazards

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed

Great vulnerbaility of cash and food crops to drought (e.g. cocoa trees)

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • agroforestry

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

vegetative measures

vegetative measures

  • V1: Tree and shrub cover
management measures

management measures

  • M1: Change of land use type
  • M2: Change of management/ intensity level
  • M3: Layout according to natural and human environment
  • M4: Major change in timing of activities
  • M5: Control/ change of species composition

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by water

soil erosion by water

  • Wt: loss of topsoil/ surface erosion
  • Wm: mass movements/ landslides
soil erosion by wind

soil erosion by wind

  • Et: loss of topsoil
chemical soil deterioration

chemical soil deterioration

  • Cn: fertility decline and reduced organic matter content (not caused by erosion)
  • Ca: acidification
physical soil deterioration

physical soil deterioration

  • Pc: compaction
biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bc: reduction of vegetation cover
  • Bh: loss of habitats
  • Bq: quantity/ biomass decline
  • Bf: detrimental effects of fires
  • Bs: quality and species composition/ diversity decline
  • Bl: loss of soil life
  • Bp: increase of pests/ diseases, loss of predators
water degradation

water degradation

  • Ha: aridification
  • Hs: change in quantity of surface water

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • prevent land degradation
  • restore/ rehabilitate severely degraded land

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

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Johanna Jacobi



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Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

For reasons of visibility, the vertical drawing only contains crops and not plants that are planted in between for biomass accumulation . The recommendations to install the plot are as follows:
plantain or banana every 4 m; another banana variety (mainly red banana) every 4m in alternating rows so that banana/plantain rows result with 2m distance; Pineapple between the banana and plantain rows every 0.3 m with 2m distance between the rows; hualuza (Xanthosoma sagittifolium) every 0.5m left and right to the rows with pineapple; sugar cane or maniok every 2m in the plantain/banan rows; papaya every 2m in the plantain/banana rows; fruit trees, timber trees and biomass-accumulating trees every 0.3m in the banana/plantain rows with a distance of 2m between rows; café every 2m in the banana/plantain rows; cocoa every 4m in the banana/plantain rows. Rice, Cajanus cajan, corn and hibiscus should be sown everywhere in between.


Yana and Weinert 2001, altered



4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify how costs and inputs were calculated:
  • per Technology area
Indicate size and area unit:

1 hectare

other/ national currency (specify):


Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:

100 BOB

4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Plot establishment withour burning When the rains start
2. selective weeding Every 3 months
3. Pruning Before the rains start
4. Harvesting Constant

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment


Implementing a dynamic agorofrestry plot with cocoa costs 3500-3600 BOB/ha, as compared to a cocoa monoculture with around 1400 BOB/ha. However, this expenditure is recovered during the first year through annual crops such as rice, causing a net gain in dynamic agroforestry plots of around 3000 BOB/ha whereas cocoa monocultures have a let loss of around 300 BOB in the first year (since there are no annual crops to sell).

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Selective weeding Every three months
2. Pruning Before rains start
3. Harvesting Continuous
4. Replanting During rainy season

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

If you are unable to break down the costs in the table above, give an estimation of the total costs of maintaining the Technology:


4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Available labor

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specify average annual rainfall (if known), in mm:


Specifications/ comments on rainfall:

Mainly in rainy season from November to March

Indicate the name of the reference meteorological station considered:

Estación experimental El Ceibo Sapecho

Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Indicate if the Technology is specifically applied in:
  • convex situations

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • coarse/ light (sandy)
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Soil texture (> 20 cm below surface):
  • coarse/ light (sandy)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Ph: 6-7.8, P: 15-17.8 mg/kg, N: 0.12-0.18%, SOM: 1.2-1.8%, K: 0.12-0.8 cmolc/kg, CEC: 8.2-15.4 cmolc/kg (all 0-25 cm depth)

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

< 5 m

Availability of surface water:


Water quality (untreated):

good drinking water

Is water salinity a problem?


Is flooding of the area occurring?




5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • high
Habitat diversity:
  • high
Comments and further specifications on biodiversity:

The Tropical Andes which the Yungas of La Paz form part of, are a "hot spot of biodiversity"

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Sedentary or nomadic:
  • Sedentary
Market orientation of production system:
  • mixed (subsistence/ commercial)
Off-farm income:
  • 10-50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • average
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • women
  • men
Age of land users:
  • youth
  • middle-aged

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • small-scale

Frequently, only 1-5 ha of the 12-15 ha that every family has is used for cropping

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • individual, titled
Land use rights:
  • individual
Water use rights:
  • communal (organized)

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


crop production

Quantity before SLM:

350 kg/ha/y dry cocoa beans

Quantity after SLM:

510 kg/ha/y dry cocoa beans

Comments/ specify:

The implementation of the tecnology implied a better understanding of cocoa growing in general (e.g. in terms of pruning) which may have led to the higher yields under dynamic agroforestry

wood production

Quantity before SLM:


Quantity after SLM:


Comments/ specify:

A mahogany tree can be grown every 12m in a dynamic agroforestry cocoa plot, but its development depends on many differnt factors.

non-wood forest production

Comments/ specify:

The highly diversified plota provide many different NTFP

risk of production failure

Comments/ specify:

Vulnerability to food insecurity decreased greatly, economic risk decreases moderately as cocoa is still the most important cash crop and crop failure can also occur in dynamic agroforestry plots.

product diversity

Quantity before SLM:


Quantity after SLM:


Income and costs

farm income

Quantity before SLM:

6044 BOB/y/family

Quantity after SLM:

7530 BOB/y/family

Comments/ specify:

Connected to organic and Fair Trade certificacion which the monoculture farmers usually don't have

diversity of income sources

Quantity before SLM:


Quantity after SLM:


Comments/ specify:

People invested more in cocoa farming than in off-farm income sources


Comments/ specify:

2410 SAF vs 5000 Mono costo mano de obra

6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

Specify assessment of off-site impacts (measurements):

no specific

6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
heatwave very well
drought moderately
Biological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
epidemic diseases moderately

A main benefit related to climate change aspects according to the land users is that they can work in the shade.

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly negative

Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:

very positive

Long-term returns:

slightly positive

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • 1-10%
Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 51-90%

Most have participated in a course and/or received some technical advice, but mostly without material incentives

6.6 Adaptation

Has the Technology been modified recently to adapt to changing conditions?


other (specify):

Lack of in-depth knowledge

Specify adaptation of the Technology (design, material/ species, etc.):

Simplified versions have been tried out (with less density and iversity of plants)

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Ecologically adapted, favorable working conditions (shade, cooler than full-sun systems), diversity of products
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Short-term (annual crops first year). mid-term (cocoa etc.) and long-term economic strategy when high-value timber trees are included (e.g. mahogany)

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Sometimes, yields are low. Produce cannot always be sold at a good price Technical support, develop market access
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
If not well managed, returns are very low Invest in good management practices, capacity building, develop markets for high-qualtiy products

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys


  • interviews with land users


  • interviews with SLM specialists/ experts


  • compilation from reports and other existing documentation

When were the data compiled (in the field)?


7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Milz, J. (1997) Guía para el establecimiento de Sistemas Agroforestales. DED La Paz.

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Yana W, Weinert H (2001) Ténicas de sistemas agroforestales multiestrato—manual prático. PIAF-El Ceibo, La Paz

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Schnatmann, A. (2006) Análisis Ecnómico de Rentabilidad - Parcelas Agroforestales Multiestrado. Interinstitucional Alto Beni

7.3 Links to relevant online information

Title/ description:

Plaform of agroforestry activities


Title/ description:

NGO working in the field of successional/dynamic agroforestry


Links and modules

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