Submitted to: Caribbean Food Crops Society Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/14/2008
Publication Date: 7/17/2008
Citation: Sotomayor-Ramierz, D., Espinoza, Y., Schroder, E., Acosta Martinez, V., Amador, J., Winiarski, K. 2008. Soil biological community structure in coffee (Coffea arabica L.) agroecosystems in the Caribbean. Caribbean Food Crops Society. Miami, Florida. July 13-17, 2008.
Technical Abstract: Coffee production in the Caribbean and Latin America is an important commodity in terms of economic, ecologic and social value. Coffee production in Puerto Rico was intensified in the 1960s, with the shift to higher-yield varieties, increased use of pesticides and fertilizers, increased mechanization, higher-density planting patterns, with production under full sunlight. There is concern that long-term, intensive coffee production under full sunlight may have a negative impact on agroecosystem sustainability. Soil physical, chemical and biological attributes from representative major coffee production regions in Puerto Rico under partial shade and full sunlight were quantified. Soils from secondary forests at least 25 years old were included as comparisons. Soil fertility differed between forest and coffee agroecosystems with improved soil reaction, nutrient reserves and availability in forested systems; only in some cases were these parameters influenced by the manner in which coffee is grown, with coffee under shade showing a tendency towards generally improved properties. The soil physical structure was significantly affected by coffee production as forested sites had greater proportion of large macroaggregates than coffee agroecosystems. Coffee under both partial shade and full sunlight had decreased large macroaggregates and increased small macroaggregates which may have large implications in the capacity of soils under coffee production to store C and release N for crops. Soil biological parameters were negatively affected by coffee production and few differences were observed between coffee under shade and full sunlight. In some cases (parameters) coffee under shade was better for the soil, but the trend was not consistent among the biological parameters measured.