Agronomy Research Expertise in Montpellier and Languedoc-Roussillon (South of France)

Agronomy : crops and cropping systems

Keywords :

Impact of coffee-based agroforestry systems on water quality and in reducing erosion phenomena

4. Preserving water resources

4. Preserving water resources

Llano Bonito valley, Tarrazú region, Costa Rica. Trees are generally intercropped with coffee, in highly variable proportions. © B. Rapidel Cropping systems have been widely assessed for their production capacity and impacts on natural resources. Agroforestry systems (AFS), in which several plant species are intercropped in a plot, including trees, can successfully meet these two challenges. Generally AFS, especially those based on tree crops like coffee, are very widespread in Central America. Many research studies have aimed at improving their agricultural performances, while many others have also now focused on the environmental services provided by AFS.

In coffee-based AFS, shade is generally planned and managed according to its interaction with the coffee crop. The challenge is thus to integrate this new feature (and possible associated funding) in AFS decisionmaking processes to enhance environmental service provision. In a small valley where coffee plantations prevail in the best coffee production area in Costa Rica, research is under way to pinpoint areas for improving coffee production, interactions between coffee plantation practices and erosion and, finally, between compromises and complementarities with respect to coffee production, erosion and soil fertility conservation. This research should be part of a wider negotiation between stakeholders, assisted by computer models to enhance the assessment of quantities of environmental services provided by coffee growers, the willingness of users to pay for services, and the willingness to provide services according to incentive schemes (SEPIA project submitted to the Agence Nationale de la Recherche, France). The hydrological system modelling is based on the research of INRA and CIRAD. The coffee system modelling is based on findings of the CASCA* project, a former European project conducted jointly by CIRAD, CATIE** and CEH***.

* Sustainability of coffee agroforestry systems in Central America; coffee quality and environmental impacts

** Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza

*** Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Bruno Rapidel,

Publication date: 30/05/2010




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