Soil fertility and nutrient status of traditional Gayo coffee agroforestry systems in the Takengon region, Aceh Province, Indonesia

Susan Hanisch, Zaitun Dara, Katja Brinkmann, Andreas Buerkert


Little is known about the traditional coffee cultivation systems in Central Aceh, Indonesia, where coffee production is a major source of income for local Gayo people. Based on field observations and farmer interviews, 14 representative agroforestry coffee plantations of different age classes (60-70 years, 30-40 years, and 20 years) as well as seven adjacent grassland and native forest sites were selected for this study, and soil and coffee leaf samples collected for nutrient analysis. Significant differences in soil and coffee leaf parameters were found between former native forest and Sumatran pine (Pinus merkusii) forest as previous land cover indicating the importance of the land use history for today’s coffee cultivation. Soil pH as well as exchangeable Na and Ca concentrations were significantly lower on coffee plantations compared to grassland and forest sites. Soil C, N, plant available P, exchangeable K, and Mg concentrations showed no consistent differences between land use groups. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) concentrations of coffee leaves were in the sufficiency range, whereas zinc (Zn) contents were found to be consistently below the sufficiency threshold and significantly lower in coffee plantations of previous pine forest cover compared to those of previous native forest cover. While the results of this study provided insights into the nutrient status of coffee plantations in Central Aceh, the heterogeneity of site conditions, limited sampling size, and scarcity of reliable data about the land use history and initial soil conditions of sampled sites preclude more definitive conclusions about the sustainability of the studied systems.


Coffea arabica, Agroforestry; Indonesia; Gayo; Sustainability

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