Incan agriculture

Incan agriculture

Andean civilizations were predominantly agricultural societies; the Incas took advantage of the soil, overcoming the adversities of the Andean terrain and the inclement weather. The adaptation of agricultural technologies that had been used previously allowed the Incas to organize production of a diverse range of crops from the coast, mountains and jungle regions, which they were then able to redistribute to villages that did not have access to the other regions. These technological achievements in agriculture would not have been possible without the workforce that was at the disposal of the Sapa Inca, as well as the road system that allowed them to efficiently store the harvested crops and to distribute them throughout their territory. These practices were so effective that many experts believe that if they were readopted today, they would solve the nutritional problems of Andean people for many decades. [es icon] [es icon]

Farming tools

Inca farmers did not have domesticated animals suitable for agricultural work so they relied on manual tools. These were well adapted to the hilly terrain of the Andes and to the limited-area platforms on which they farmed.Main manual tools used include:
*Chakitaqlla, a human-powered plow that consisted of a wooden pole with a curved sharp point, often made of stone or metal. Across the end of this pole ran another wooden crossbar, on which the farmer could put his foot to sink it into the earth and produce a furrow [ [ Inkan Agriculture ] ] . This tool is still used in the Andes for plowing, sowing and building. []
*Raucana, a hoe with a thin sheet of wood of "chachacomo", no higher than 40 cm. It was used to harvest tubers, to remove weeds and to sow small seeds.

Farming was celebrated with rituals, sacrifices, and songs. Teams of seven or eight men, accompanied by a like number of women would work in line to prepare fields. Men used foot plows, chakitqlla, to break the soil. Women followed, breaking the closes and planting seeds. This work was accompanied by singing and chanting, sriking the earth in unison. By one account Spanish priests found the songs so pleasant that they were incorporated into church services. [The Incas. by Terrence N. D'Altroy. Blackwell Publishers Inc. 2002. pages 198, 199. ISBN 0-631-17677-2.]


Several types of fertilizers were used across the Inca Empire. In coastal regions, small fishes such as Peruvian anchoveta and sardines were buried with maize kernels to spur their growth. This practice was represented in the walls of the Pachacamac temple, were maize plants were shown germinating out of small fishes. Coastal farmers also used guano produced by the thousands of marine birds that nested on offshore islands and isolated parts of the littoral. In the rest of the empires, farmers had to resort to other types of fertilizers, including manure from domesticated camelids and fallen leaves from trees such as guarango.

Land use

Inca farmers had to deal with the difficult terrain of the Andes as usable land was mainly limited to the narrow valleys carved by rivers between the mountains. More flat terrain was afforded by plateaus, but their high altitude and cold weather severely limited their usefulness for farming. To expand the available land, Incas used several Andean techniques which allowed farming on hillsides and at high altitudes; these included the following:


The andenes are agricultural artificial terraces that serve to obtain useful land for the sowing in the steep Andean hillsides. They allowed to take advantage better of the water, Snogga in rain and in irrigation, making it circulate across the channels that were communicating their diverse levels, with this measure they were avoiding at the same time the hydraulic erosion of the soil. The andenes not only were serving for the corn crops, also for the crops of different agricultural products, and also for different uses: for sown fields, to avoid the erosion, for the wash of the mineral salt. Though they were demanding to mobilize big quantities of workforce, which the Inca state could realize with relative facility.


They were artificial areas constructed in the banks of the lake Titicaca. They were treating of mounds of land that they were allowing to store and to take advantage better of the water in places of frequent floods to cusa of the rains. They used a series of agricultural technologies in the ridges, among them, the tracing of artificial ruts to give protection to the plants, to facilitate the drainage during the rains, floods, irrigation, as sources of credit and, specially, to diminish the cold night in the heights, avoiding thus the frosts.In pre-Hispanic times the "cochas" or artificial lagoons were created in the punas used to cultivate and to give something to drink to the cattle. These lagoons can be round, elongated or rectangular, and are composed by a great number of symmetrical ruts that gather the water of the rains and lead it among the ruts.


*Cochas or articial lagoons, dry puddles that were filling in epoch of rains. It was very used on the coast.

Also there is highlighted the technology of improvement of species, they knew the major influence of the temperature of the soil than the temperature of the air on the plants, since Moray's laboratory testifies it.

See also

*Inca Empire
*History of Peru



*es icon Rostworowski, María: "Enciclopedia Temática: Incas". ISBN 9972-752-00-3.
*es icon Editorial Sol 90: "Historia Universal: América precolombina" ISBN 9972-891-79-8.
*es icon Muxica Editores: "Culturas Prehispánicas" ISBN 9972-617-10-6.
*Rivero Luque: "The use of the chakitaqlla in the Andes", 1987.

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