The goal of the partner project between the Brazilian Coffee Exporters Council (Cecafé), the Institute of Forest and Agricultural Management & Certification, and the University of São Paulo, was to measure the average amount of carbon sequestration (the process of capturing carbon to remove it from the atmosphere) on 40 farms in the 3 main coffee-producing regions in the state of Minas Gerais.
The findings were positive, as the farms sequestered an average of 10.5 tons of CO2 per hectare per year. In other words, the biomass of the growing coffee plants absorbed more CO2 than was produced.
The world has been shifting to greener energy and greener agricultural practices for quite some time. Shade-grown coffee, which might even turn into agro-forests and sanctuaries for native plants and animals, is, for example, one approach to more sustainable coffee production. According to Brazilian Coffee Exporters Council research, even traditional coffee production sequesters more CO2 than it emits greenhouse gases (GHG).
Minas Gerais is the largest Brazilian coffee-producing state, with 1.2 million hectares dedicated to this crop. Its three main regions are Sul-do Minas (to the South), Cerrado, and Matas-de-Minas (the Forests area). The project’s aim was to estimate the carbon balance in these three regions by measuring the release, and the sequestration, of greenhouse gasses.
The project was carried out on 40 standard coffee farms across the three regions. Researchers took samples of soil and coffee trees from four pairs of farms that represent realistic production practices in the region. Professor Carlos Eduardo Cerri from the University of São Paulo was pleased with the results. He said.
The study findings indicate that adopting good practices in coffee-growing generates additional carbon sequestration since even more CO2 is retained in the soil and in the plant than is emitted into the atmosphere, compared to traditional management, which is already carbon negative.Professor Carlos Eduardo Cerri, University of São Paulo
The country has already taken steps to preserve nature. Permanent Preservation areas (PPAs), according to Cecafé’s Sustainability manager, Silvia Pizzo are:
Natural protected areas, with rigid limits of exploitation, that is, direct economic exploitation is not allowed. For every hectare of coffee trees, there is, on average, 50 tons of carbon stored in the form of Legal Reserves and PPAs.Silvia Pizzo, Cecafé’s Sustainability manager
Research results showed that, when correctly done, Brazilian coffee cultivation can be a contributor to the mitigation of climate change, as it sequesters more carbon than the greenhouse gases it releases.
Certain farms like Daterra already vowed to make their coffee productions greener and become even more carbon-negative. After two frosts in 2021, some farmers see the solution in increasing the density of trees they plant. This approach can help protect the coffee trees from chilling wind around the farm, whereas the canopies within the plantation form a dome-like protection. The fact that they also sequester a significant amount of CO2 is a welcome additional benefit.
Photo by FCRebelo