Shade trees in coffee and cocoa agroforestry systems provide valuable livelihoods and other ecosystem services. Unfortunately, most shade canopies are sub-optimally designed and managed and the reasons behind this sub-optimality are poorly known. There is evidence, however, indicating that farmers and extension agents lack both the knowledge and access to user-friendly tools to optimally design their shade canopies. To fill this gap, we developed ShadeMotion, a simple to parameterize, yet powerful software, capable of calculating the spatial and temporal distribution of the shade cast by trees on a plot (horizontal or tilted) anywhere on Earth. Trees may be planted in any spatial arrangement, their population density can change according to planting, thinning, mortality or harvest, tree crowns may take any of eight possible, regular, geometric shapes, vary in density and monthly leaf fall patterns, and may be pollarded or not. Shade patterns may be calculated for one instant, 1 year or less, or for the entire life cycle of a plantation; in the latter case, tree growth data must be added as input. Shade can be measured at ground level or at any height above the ground. In this article, we: (1) describe the key features of the software, and (2) simulate the spatial and temporal shade patterns of a traditional agroforestry system of Coffea arabica cv. Caturra, Erythrina poeppigiana and Cordia alliodora in Costa Rica. ShadeMotion can realistically model farm scenarios and may be used in the participatory design of agroforestry systems in farmers field schools and in classrooms.
Authors: Somarriba, E.; Zamora, R.; Barrantes, J.; Sinclair, F.L.; Quesada, F.
Subjects: coffee, cocoa, agroforestry, agroforestry systems, simulation models, computer software
Publication type: Journal Article, Publication