Irrigation and intercropping with macadamia increase initial arabica coffee yield and profitability

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Amer Soc Agronomy



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Although some regions of Brazil are considered suitable for Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica L.) cultivation under rainfed and full-sun conditions, irrigation and afforestation, especially for species that generate an economic return, may be alternative methods for improving coffee crop performance, diversifying and maximizing income. However, it is unclear whether additive effects occur due to the joint use of these practices. Thus, an experiment was conducted over a 7-yr period to evaluate the growth, yield, and profitability of Arabica coffee in monocropping and intercropping systems with macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia Maiden &Betche) under rainfed and drip-irrigation regimes in southeastern Brazil. Monocropped coffee plants were planted with a spacing of 3.5 by 0.7 m (4082 plants ha(-1)). In the intercropping systems, the macadamia trees were planted at a spacing of 10.5 by 4.9 m (194 plants ha(-1)) and the coffee plants at a spacing of 3.5 by 0.7 m (3887 plants ha(-1)). Intercropping with macadamia increased the coffee yield by 10% under rainfed conditions. Drip irrigation promoted greater growth and increased the coffee and macadamia yields by 60 and 133%, respectively. In the monocropped coffee under rainfed conditions, the first five harvest years were not sufficient to pay for the investments. Interestingly, both irrigation and intercropping increased the economic benefits. Furthermore, the irrigated coffee intercropped with macadamia resulted in the greatest profitability after the first five harvests. Thus, this system is an interesting alternative for increasing the sustainability of the Arabica coffee crop in the initial cropping years.





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Agronomy Journal. Madison: Amer Soc Agronomy, v. 107, n. 2, p. 615-626, 2015.

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