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Evaluating cover crop ecosystem services for buffering coffee against changing climate

Research Paper | October 1, 2021

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Ndiritu James Mwangi, Kinama Josiah Mavindani, Muthama John Nzioka

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J. Bio. Env. Sci.19( 4), 16-35, October 2021


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Conventional coffee production systems relies heavily on broad-spectrum glyphosate herbicide applications and intensive tillage practices for weed control practices oblivious of the risks associated with loss of supportive ecosystems services. Agroecological alternatives integrating legume cover crops for weed control benefiting the soil ecology and optimistically enhancing ecosystem services has been missing in coffee production. This study compared low input coffee production weed control practices using conventional tillage and glyphosate herbicide application with desmodium legume cover crop as an agro ecological alternative. The study having three treatments replicated 3 times was carried out at the University of Nairobi coffee plantation at Kabete considered agro climatic zone III mirroring other Kenyan coffee production areas. Total coffee yields were compared among the three weed control practices after 15 months. Regression analysis of the yields was compared to give the differences in the yields associated with each practice. Climate predictions have indicated that coffee production systems will face climate change related challenges and farmers need to adapt resilience measures to adapt to the related environmental impacts. Results showed that desmodium legume cover crops had 1.6 times higher production per coffee bush than herbicide weed control and 1.2 times higher than hand weeding. These positive results on coffee production adaptation resulting from agro ecological modifications enhancing ecosystem services benefits should be demonstrated to farmers to enhance their understanding on the need to embrace agro ecology in their coffee production systems.


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Evaluating cover crop ecosystem services for buffering coffee against changing climate

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