Brazil is a world leader in coffee production. However, currently, it coexists with recurrent and severe droughts, accompanied by intense heat, strong insolation and low relative humidity. As the cultivation is carried out primarily in the rainy season, these world climate variations have affected crops yields and fruits quality, requiring innovative actions that promote efficient use of water stored in the soil. Among several soil management practices that promote a more rational use of water, deep tillage combined with liming, gypsum and fertilizer amendments lead to an increase in effective depth of coffee roots, therefore reducing water stress. Moreover, intercropping with Urochloa sp. is highly efficient in enhancing soil structure, water infiltration and plant available water capacity. Additionally, other innovative techniques and practices are also introduced in this chapter.
Part of the book: Coffee
Coffee is one of the most traditional and economically important agricultural commodities in tropical countries, especially in Brazil, the world’s greatest producer. Typically, site preparation for planting coffee stands includes deep furrowing, which allows for better mitigation of soil physical and chemical limitations and thus stronger and deeper root development. However, the practice of deep tillage prior to planting coffee seedlings strongly disrupts soil aggregates and thus affects negatively the physical quality of soil. Thus, after these deep tillage operations, some management practices must be employed to improve soil aggregation and thus enhance the sustainability of coffee production. In this chapter, we review evidence of improved soil aggregation in planting furrows promoted by application of gypsum and grass biomass residues, favoring a better organization of the soil porous space for coffee roots. Other innovative techniques are also discussed, such as the use of organomineral fertilizers associated with plastic mulching in soil aggregation.
Part of the book: Sustainable Crop Production