Coffee and Agroforestry

Agroforestry Coffee. What is it?

It is coffee produced in an agroforestry system, whether this system is natural or recreated by people. It is the oldest way of growing (or harvesting) coffee, originating in Ethiopia hundreds of years ago. Agroforestry coffee production is a practice that is gaining more and more space in Brazil, emulating, with modern and ancestral techniques, cultivation in its most traditional and respectful form.

But what is agroforestry?

It is an agricultural production system that integrates trees, bushes, agricultural crops and animals on the same surface, inspired by the dynamics of natural ecosystems, where different species interact with each other and with the environment to ensure their survival.

Agroforests offer several benefits, such as:

  • Sustainable food production, as they help conserve soil, water and biodiversity.

  • Reduction of soil erosion, as its roots help anchor the soil and its leaves help reduce the impact of rain.

  • Improve soil quality, since trees and shrubs add organic matter to the soil and help improve its structure.

  • Increased biodiversity by providing habitat for a variety of plant and animal species.

  • Recovery of degraded areas, such as mining or deforested areas.

  • Reduction or elimination of chemical pesticides: The inclusion of naturally pest-repellent species in the system and the harmonious environment created by plant diversity protect plants from pests and diseases.

These farming systems can be differentiated according to their function (food production, wood production, recovery of degraded areas, among others), structure (a single layer, two or more layers, vertical or horizontal), species (with native species, with exotic species). species, or with a mixture of native and exotic species).

  • Single layer agroforests are the simplest. They are made up of a single level of plants, which can be trees, shrubs or creeping plants. Example: an orchard of fruit trees.

  • Two-level agroforests are more complex than the previous one. They consist of two levels, which can be of different heights. Example: coffee trees with fruit trees.

  • Agroforests with three or more layers are the most complex. They are made up of three or more levels of plants, which can be of different heights. Example: coffee plantation with fruit trees, shrubs and low-growing plants. This setup is more like a fully formed forest.

  • The choice of the number of layers in an agroforestry depends on a series of factors, such as the height of the plant species that will be used, since there must be compatibility between height and the number of layers, the climatic conditions of the region and the producer objectives

Agroforestry coffee in a 3-layer system Agroforestry coffee in a 3-layer system - Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza

Agroforestry coffee in a multi-layer system Agroforestry coffee in a system of 3 or more layers - Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza

The benefits of an agroforestry with three or more layers are several:

  • Increased biodiversity, by providing habitat for a variety of plant and animal species.

  • Diversification of production: The same plantation can be a source of food, wood and other products.

  • Reduction in production costs, as they can help protect the soil from erosion and reduce the need for irrigation and control of pests and diseases.

Being more complex, these systems require more careful planning. However, they offer a series of benefits, both for the environment and for rural producers.

We hope to have sparked people's interest in the food produced under this system, but we know we have only scratched the surface of this rich topic.

If our readers are more interested in agroforestry production in Brazil, we give names of some people and companies that inspire and teach us on this topic: Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza (Silvia Barretto, Marcos Croce and Felipe Croce), Fazenda Ninho da Aguia ( Clayton Barrossa Monteiro), Gabriela Parfait .