Agroforestry management as an adaptive strategy against potential microclimate extremes in coffee agriculture
Current climate change patterns may cause more extreme and variable climates in the future, threatening agricultural productivity in many areas of the world. Because many smallholder, rural farmers depend on subsistence, rainfed agriculture, priorities should be focused on coping mechanisms that protect these farmers from future vulnerabilities. This paper examines one possible adaptive strategy for coffee agriculture. A high (60–80%), medium (35–65%), and low (10–30%) shade coffee site were chosen in the Soconusco region of Chiapas, Mexico. Microclimate and soil moisture data were collected to examine the ability of shade tree cover in an agroforestry system to protect crop plants against extremes in microclimate and soil moisture fluctuation. Site and site by time effects were analyzed using linear mixed models to compare mean differences of microclimate measurements (temperature, relative humidity, and solar radiation) by site as well as by time of the day. Although there were not large differences in seasonal means for these factors, site by time effects show that temperature, humidity, and solar radiation fluctuations increase significantly as shade cover decreases.
Soil data showed significantly larger fluctuations in soil moisture gain and loss in the low shade site respective of patterns of precipitation. Overall, the amount of shade cover was directly related to the mitigation of variability in microclimate and soil moisture for the crop of interest. The use of agroforestry systems is an economically feasible way to protect crop plants from extremes in microclimate and soil moisture and should be considered a potential adaptive strategy for farmers in areas that will suffer from extremes in climate.
Lin, B.B. (2007). Agroforestry management as an adaptive strategy against potential microclimate extremes in coffee agriculture. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 144: 85–94.