Geographer Mitchell Power of the University of Utah's Natural History Museum is part of a team of researchers discovering how some Amazon farmers prior to the 1500s used raised wetland beds to produce their crops without slash-and-burn or other techniques that heavily rely on fire. The method was labor-intensive, however, and native peoples of the Amazon had to abandon it when European disease killed most of the population, Power said. Today, most farming is done by clearing dry land, which has decimated the rainforests.

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