Shade trees can protect coffee trees, ecosystem: study

Coffee trees can be protected from extreme heat and cold by young shade trees without yield loss, according to studies published in the journals of Agricultural Systems and Plant Soil.


Researchers analyzed the impact of young shade trees on microclimates, the developmental cycle of the coffee fruit, coffee yield, and coffee quality over a four-year period in southwest China's Yunnan Province.


The results revealed that young shade trees moderated daily temperature fluctuations, served as buffers against high temperatures in the rainy season, and insulated coffee trees from cold temperatures in the dry season.


The researchers also tested soil samples from an intensively managed coffee system in Yunnan Province during both rainy and dry seasons, as well as recorded the coffee yield for two consecutive years.


They discovered that all shade tree species exerted positive impacts on chemical, biological, and biochemical components of soil, especially during the dry season.


Coffee trees under light shade intensity produced yields similar to coffee trees in open conditions. Only coffee trees under dense shade produced lower yields, according to the study.


The study demonstrated that carefully selected shade trees can contribute to a balanced ecosystem that preserves soil quality while maintaining coffee yield and quality at levels similar to those grown in monoculture coffee systems.



 Monoculture arabica coffee systems to agroforestry systems (Image by KIB)


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