Produce coffee in shaded plantations
Overall effectiveness category Awaiting assessment
Number of studies: 2
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Background information and definitions
Coffee is often grown commercially in large monocultures, with no taller trees providing shade, often referred to as “sun-grown” coffee. However, as a perennial species which grows naturally in the forest understorey, coffee can also be grown among other, taller trees, which may or may not also provide a commercial product (“shade-grown coffee”). By retaining a more diverse forest structure, shade-grown coffee may allow a more diverse forest ecosystem to develop or persist, including communities of butterflies and moths. However, some species of moth, such as the coffee leaf miner, are a coffee pest, and growers may want to reduce their abundance (Borkhataria et al. 2012).
Borkhataria R.R., Collazo J.A. & Groom M.J. (2012) Species abundance and potential biological control services in shade vs. sun coffee in Puerto Rico. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 151, 1–5.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, site comparison study in 1999–2000 in six coffee plantations in Puerto Rico (Borkhataria et al 2012) found that shade-grown coffee plantations had a higher abundance of caterpillars than sun-grown coffee plantations. In shade-grown coffee plantations, the abundance of caterpillars (1.3 individuals/tree) was higher than in sun-grown plantations (0.6 individuals/tree). However, the abundance of a coffee pest species (coffee leaf miner Leucoptera coffeela) was not significantly different in shade-grown (2.0 individuals/tree) and sun-grown coffee (1.7 individuals/tree). In April 1999 and March–April 2000, caterpillars were surveyed in two or three randomly-located plots (>120 m apart) in each of three shade- and three sun-grown coffee plantations (1.35–5.95 ha). Caterpillars were surveyed by turning 100 leaves (>10 cm long, 0.5–2 m high) in each of 12–14 coffee trees/plot.Study and other actions tested
A site comparison study in 2016 in five coffee plantations in Veracruz, Mexico (Sosa-Aranda et al. 2018) found that shaded coffee plantations had a higher abundance and species richness of caterpillars than a sun-grown monoculture plantation. On four polyculture and shaded monoculture coffee plantations, the abundance (124–212 individuals) and species richness (83–129 species) of caterpillars was higher than in a sun-grown coffee monoculture (abundance: 47 individuals; richness: 46 species). In addition, the amount of damage found on coffee leaves was not related to either caterpillar abundance or species richness (data not presented). The management intensity of five coffee plantations was measured based on 10 vegetation characteristics (including canopy cover, epiphyte cover, area of shade trees and presence of herbs) and the frequency of six external inputs (fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, irrigation and ploughing). In July, September and December 2016, all caterpillars were collected by hand from all plants along three 30 × 2-m transects in the centre of each plantation, and reared to adults for species identification.Study and other actions tested
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This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:Butterfly and Moth Conservation
Butterfly and Moth Conservation - Published 2022
Butterfly and Moth Synopsis