In the last few weeks the heavy rains from hurricanes Eta and Iota have caused significant flooding, landslides and even washed away roads here in Chiriqui province.
This was especially evident in the Tierras Altas district and towns of Cerro Punta, Paso Ancho, and Volcan. Fortunately, Boquete did not suffer any major damage, compared to the other communities in the province.
Thanks to our current farm management practices, we could resist the severe weather, and our farms didn’t suffer any damage or loss.
In each of our farms, we have paid special attention to keeping them completely covered with plant life whose root systems interconnect beneath the surface, creating a net that holds the soil in place and filters the excess water.
These kinds of extreme weather events remind us how important it is to create coping strategies such as these in order to reduce the impact of severe weather on our farms.
Taking into account that flooding is an issue of increasing global importance due to land-use alteration affecting hydrological cycles globally, good agronomic practices are not just recommended, but vital to be able to continue with this activity.
Considering all the above, today let’s talk about the importance of our Soil and its coping effect.
Healthy soils are a protective shield from climate change
Everyone involved in agricultural activities knows how important it is to maintain healthy soils, not only to produce high-quality food but also to protect the plantations and reduce the effect of erosion.
One of the most important functions of the soil is its “retainer” function. Our soil stores the nutrients and makes them available to the plants, but also acts as a net that is resistant to erosion.
The root system of the cover crops along the farm floor, creates a protective net, under the surface, that protects against erosion.
If you have soil where all its vegetal cover has been removed, it’s naked, unsupported and more exposed to the effects of the rain and wind. This is much more evident when the weather conditions are tougher and we have strong rains and flooding like we just experienced.
The root system of the cover crops is so important for healthy soils, maintaining the structural integrity below the surface..
Planting patterns of coffee trees can reduce, or increase, the erosion effect.
The pattern in which you plant your coffee trees is one of the many important aspects that needs to be studied carefully when engineering a coffee plantation.
Planting against the slope, horizontally, will help you to reduce erosion by reducing the effect of gravity. This means that controlling the sediment must be an integral part of any soil management system to improve water and soil quality.
On the other hand planting trees in the same direction as the slope, vertically, which is the traditional way in most coffee growing regions, is the magical recipe to promote soil erosion, which translates into nutrient losses every year and long-term soil impoverishment.
Shade trees are your ally to reduce erosion.
Shade is another critical element in coffee-growing systems and it is so important for many reasons. Starting with the fact that coffee grows naturally under the canopy of other trees in its natural habitat.
Another benefit is the natural mulch generated by the leaves and the decomposition of the shade trees and organic material which becomes a protective layer, and a shield against erosion.
Today, more than ever, protecting our soil is not only a smart and strategic decision that everybody involved in an agronomic activity should be taking into account, but vital for the future of farming.