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Eight years studying ecosystem services in a coffee agroforestry observatory. Practical applications for the stakeholders

Roupsard O., Van Den Meersche K., Allinne C., Vaast P., Rapidel B., Avelino J., Jourdan C., Le Maire G., Bonnefond J.M., Harmand J.M., Dauzat J., Albrecht A., Chevallier T., Barthès B., Clément-Vidal A., Gómez-Delgado F., Charbonnier F., Benegas L., Welsh K., Kinoshita R., Vezy R., Perez Molina J., Kim J.H., Taugourdeau S., Defrenet E., Nespoulous J., Rançon F., Guidat F., Cambou A., Soma M., Mages C., Schnabel F., Prieto I., Picart D., Duthoit M., Rocheteau A., Do F.C., de Melo Virginio Filho E., Moussa R., Le Bissonnais Y., Valentin C., Sánchez-Murillo R., Roumet C., Stokes A., Vierling L.A., Eitel J.U.H., Dreyer E., Saint-André L., Malmer A., Loustau D., Isaac M.E., Martin A., Priemé A., Elberling B., Madsen M., Robelo A., Robelo D., Borgonovo C., Lehner P., Ramirez G., Jara M., Acuna Vargas R., Barquero Aguilar A., Fonseca C., Gay F.. 2017. s.l., 11 p.. World Coffee Summit, 2017-05-31/2017-06-03, San Salvador (El Salvador).

Eight years of monitoring ecophysiology and ecosystem services (ES) in a large coffee farm of Costa Rica yields a range of practical applications for the farmer and stakeholders, thanks to numerous scientific actors and disciplines contributing to our collaborative observatory (Coffee-Flux). ¿ A lot of ecosystem services depend on the soil properties, such as runoff/infiltration, water and nutrient storage capacity. It is essential to relate hydrological and soil conservation services to the soil type, since this might have even more importance than the crop itself for ES. Regarding the use of fertilizer, we show that some soils may have a large storage capacity, allowing producing coffee at normal yields with just a reduced, or even a minimum amount of fertilizers, for instance when the economic conditions are unfavorable. Also, due to the soil variability within the farm, it is possible to adjust fertilization to micro-local conditions and reduce the total expenses and risks of leaching of N to the environment. VNIRS and MIR are promising broadband tools for screening the variability in soils. Adjusting N fertilizer to the optimum will also considerably reduce the N2O emissions and improve the GHG balance of the farm. ¿ Pesticides-fongicides: we show that an adequate amount of shade trees allows reducing the severity of the whole complex of leaf diseases. This also should reduce expenses and impacts on the ecosystem. ¿ Roots: a simple survey of basal area at collar allows estimating the belowground biomass and the average age of a plantation, to judge of its market value and to decide when to replace it. ¿ Also starch plays a key role in the trophic equilibrium between the perennial parts of the coffee plant (aerial stump, belowground stump, coarse roots) and its ephemeral parts (resprout, leaves, fruits, fine roots). Coffee plants accumulate starch in the stumps by the end of the life of their resprout, as a strategy for survival. Breeding plants with less starch build-up capacity would probably allow increasing the fraction of productive years during the lifespan of the resprouts. ¿ Coffee farms are probably much closer to C neutrality than currently admitted using the C-Neutrality protocol. We stress the prevailing role of coffee plants + litter + soil in the ecosystem C balance. If those are excluded from the calculations as done so far, coffee farms are GHG sources, by definition. We argue that either full assessments (as proposed here, at the ecosystem level, including trees, coffee, litter, soil and roots) or consensus on ¿sequestration factors¿ (the counterpart of emission factors) would allow performing a more realistic assessment of the GHG balance. ¿ Finally, we bring new data confirming that shade trees offer numerous ecosystem services, when adequately managed for the local context. As compared to full sun conditions, they may (i) reduce laminar erosion by a factor of ca. 2, (ii) increase the atmospheric N2 fixation and the % of N recycled into the system, thus reducing the fertilizer requirements, (iii) reduce the severity of the leaf disease complex, (iv) increase C sequestration, (v) improve the microclimate, and (vi) be a large part of the solution to face climate changes. All this is possibly without negative effects on profitability or yield, if managed properly. In our particular case-study, we encount....

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