Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Green Coffee-growing Practices Buffer Climate-change Impacts

Date:
October 10, 2008
Source:
University of Michigan
Summary:
Chalk up another environmental benefit for shade-grown Latin American coffee: University of Michigan researchers say the technique will provide a buffer against the ravages of climate change in the coming decades.

Mature Coffee Berries - Coffee berries on a branch of the coffee bush, Chiapas, Mexico.
Credit: Photo by Shinsuke Uno

Chalk up another environmental benefit for shade-grown Latin American coffee: University of Michigan researchers say the technique will provide a buffer against the ravages of climate change in the coming decades.

Related Articles


s.

Over the last three decades, many Latin American coffee farmers have abandoned traditional shade-growing techniques, in which the plants are grown beneath a diverse canopy of trees. In an effort to increase production, much of the acreage has been converted to "sun coffee," which involves thinning or removing the canopy.

Shade-grown farms boost biodiversity by providing a haven for birds and other animals. They also require far less synthetic fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides than sun-coffee plantations.

In the October edition of the journal BioScience, three U-M researchers say shade-growing also shields coffee plants during extreme weather events, such as droughts and severe storms. Climate models predict that extreme weather events will become increasingly common in the coming decades, as the levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas continue to mount.

The U-M scientists warn Latin American farmers of the risks tied to "coffee-intensification programs"---a package of technologies that includes the thinning of canopies and the use of high-yield coffee strains that grow best in direct sunlight---and urge them to consider the greener alternative: shade-grown coffee.

"This is a warning against the continuation of this trend toward more intensive systems," said Ivette Perfecto of the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment, one of the authors. "Shaded coffee is ideal because it will buffer the system from climate change while protecting biodiversity."

Perfecto has studied biodiversity in Latin American coffee plantations for 20 years. The lead author of the BioScience paper is Brenda Lin, whose 2006 U-M doctoral dissertation examined microclimate variability under different shade conditions at Mexican coffee plantations.

Lin is currently a Science and Technology Policy Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. The other author of the BioScience paper is John Vandermeer of the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

The livelihoods of more than 100 million people worldwide are tied to coffee production. In Latin America, most coffee farms lack irrigation---relying solely on rainwater---which makes them especially vulnerable to drought and heat waves.

Shade trees help dampen the effects of drought and heat waves by maintaining a cool, moist microclimate beneath the canopy. The optimal temperature range for growing common Arabica coffee is 64 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Shade trees also act as windbreaks during storms and help reduce runoff and erosion.

Lin's work in southern Mexico showed that shady farms have greater water availability than sunny farms, due in part to lower evaporation rates from the coffee plants and soils. More shade also reduced peak temperatures between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when southern Mexican coffee plants experience the greatest heat stress.

"These two trends---increasing agricultural intensification and the trend toward more frequent extreme-weather events---will work in concert to increase farmer vulnerability," Lin said. "We should take advantage of the services the ecosystems naturally provide, and use them to protect farmers' livelihoods."

The study was funded by the National Security Education Program's David L. Boren Fellowship, the Lindbergh Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

More information about Ivette Perfecto is available at: http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/public/experts/ExpDisplay.php?ExpID=599

EDITORS: Images of shade-grown and sun-grown Latin American coffee farms are available at: http://umich.edu/news/index.html?coffee08/coffee


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Michigan. "Green Coffee-growing Practices Buffer Climate-change Impacts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081001093458.htm>.
University of Michigan. (2008, October 10). Green Coffee-growing Practices Buffer Climate-change Impacts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081001093458.htm
University of Michigan. "Green Coffee-growing Practices Buffer Climate-change Impacts." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081001093458.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird-Looking Dinosaur Solves 50-Year-Old Mystery

Weird-Looking Dinosaur Solves 50-Year-Old Mystery

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) You've probably seen some weird-looking dinosaurs, but have you ever seen one this weird? It's worth a look. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins