What are some alternatives to slash and burn agriculture?
Using natural and artificial fertilizers
The slash and burn agriculture depends on burning the rain forest to create a more fertile field. In the rain forest most of the nutrients are locked into the large trees. The actual soil on the forest floor is very poor without the nutrients to support agriculture.
Burning the trees is an inefficient way of fertilizing the soil. Many of the vital nutrients are destroyed by the heat of the fire. Large amounts of the mass of nitrogen and carbon are carried away in the smoke and ash from the fire. The fields created this way are not able to support agriculture for more than 3-5 years. Then another field must be created by burning more forest land.
When the trees are cleared by foresting no nutrients are returned to the soil. However if the wealth obtained from the sell of the lumber was invested into fertilizers the land would sustain agriculture for longer periods of time.
Another option is to combine agriculture with animal husbandry. The waste from the animals can be used as fertilizer to sustain agriculture.
The use of fertilizer both natural and artificial sources could replace the use of burning the trees to create fertile fields in the forest for agriculture.