Coffee agroforestry systems capable of reducing disease-induced yield and economic losses while providing multiple ecosystem services
Cerda et al. 2020
Agroforestry is a nature-based approach to agricultural production, with great potential for providing sustainable food security. This study looks at ecosystem services and disease in 61 smallholder coffee plots in Turrialba, Costa Rica. The authors found the six coffee agroforestry systems with the most promise for reducing losses to disease, whilst providing high yields of agroforestry products (fruit and timber), maintaining of soil fertility, and sequestering carbon. The authors then identified characteristics to guide improved implementation of coffee agroforestry.
For example, they deduce that coffee trees can be managed at densities of up to 350 trees per hectare, depending on the tree species and goals of the farmer, and that shade cover should not surpass 35%, being lower in systems with a high density of musaceae (e.g. banana) plants. The authors suggest that weed control should ideally be done three times a year, but herbicide use should be limited, whilst fertilizer should be applied at least once a year. The paper also identified some trade-offs, such as maximising carbon sequestration in fruit trees coming at the expense of disease regulation.