"Zonificación agroecológica del café (Coffea arabica) y el cacao (Theobroma cacao, Lin) en Costa Rica, mediante el sistema de zonas de vida."
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Dr. R.L. Holdridge’s life zone system is proposed as a practical tool for the agro-ecological zoning of crops, specifically coffee and cacao. Life zones are usually used to determine the natural distribution of species, comparing them with biophysical variables (primarily the climate variables of precipitation and temperature), but the tool could also be applied to crops. Using a geographic information system (GIS), agro-ecological and life zone maps were generated for coffee and cacao based on the biophysical variables proposed by the maps' authors. The maps were compared to those prepared by said authors and little coincidence was found for different technical factors, mainly due to the different procedures used for preparing them. To compare the life zone and agro-ecological maps it was necessary to map to the second level of life zone associations, taking into account other biophysical variables such as dry months, fog and soil limitations due to drainage, effective depth and texture. Some 140 types of life zone associations were identified, without field confirmation; some were quite small, leading to errors when crossing the different variables. The life zone association map was compared to the agro-ecological maps for coffee and cacao generated in the GIS on the basis of biophysical variables proposed by the authors. It was found that despite the limitations that were encountered a relationship exists between the life zone associations and the production classes used by the authors of the agro-ecological maps for coffee and cacao. At the association level, then, the life zone system could be a practical tool for agro-ecological zoning, as long as the limitations found in this study can be resolved. Coffee has high productive potential in the premontane very wet forest area under zonal conditions (without limitations) or in the presence of deciduous forest. The premontane wet forest may also have high potential, but this was not reflected due to a technical problem with the biotemperature formula. With cacao, the relating of limiting factors with life zone associations found high potential only in zonal associations in tropical wet forest and tropical very wet forest and transitions from tropical wet and tropical very wet to premontane. Verification is needed of the validity of the biophysical variables determining the life zone associations according to the proposed method in this study, and field confirmation is needed of the presence of life zone associations and their relationship to coffee and cacao crops.
Proyecto de Graduación (Maestría en Gestión de Recursos Naturales y Tecnologías de Producción) Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, Área Académica Agroforestal, 2014.