Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 80, Issue 3, pp 341–359 | Cite as

Coffee agroforestry systems in Central America: I. A review of quantitative information on physiological and ecological processes

  • Marcel van OijenEmail author
  • Jean Dauzat
  • Jean-Michel Harmand
  • Gerry Lawson
  • Philippe Vaast


Coffee is widely grown across Central America at altitudes between 600 and 2500 m, mostly in association with trees that provide shade and other services. Research on coffee agroforestry systems has identified many environmental factors, management strategies and plant characteristics that affect growth, yield and environmental impact of the system. Much of this literature only presents qualitative estimates of the importance of the different growth determining factors, or highly site-specific estimates. Quantitative information is required to allow statistical analysis or the construction of process-based models of the system. Here, we review the available quantitative information for the latter purpose, with emphasis on the data needs for modelling agroforestry systems common in Central America. Process-based models require environmental data—weather, soil—and data on the physiological characteristics of the coffee plants and trees. Our review showed that the current literature is insufficient to allow full parameterisation of a process-based model for any coffee-tree combination. Information on weather, coffee and trees is highly limited, but soil information seems more adequate. A regional network of replicated multi-factorial experiments, focusing on the interactive effects of different environmental factors, may help address the main knowledge gaps.


Coffea arabica Shade trees Soil Climate Management 



This work was part of the project “Sustainability of Coffee Agroforestry Systems in Central America” (CASCA) supported by the European Union under contract ICA4-2001-10071. We thank Luis Dionisio for assistance with acquiring weather data, Nicolas Franck for data on coffee physiology and an anonymous reviewer for evaluating this paper as well as an earlier version.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcel van Oijen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jean Dauzat
    • 2
  • Jean-Michel Harmand
    • 2
  • Gerry Lawson
    • 3
  • Philippe Vaast
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH-Edinburgh)PenicuikUK
  2. 2.CIRADMontpellierFrance
  3. 3.NERCSwindonUK
  4. 4.CATIETurrialbaCosta Rica

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