Soil Evaporation in a Shaded Coffee Plantation Derived From Eddy Covariance Measurements

F. Holwerda*, A. G.C.A. Meesters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Little is known about soil evaporation (Esoil) in shaded coffee plantations. In this study, Esoil and its proportion to total evapotranspiration and rainfall (P) were quantified for a densely shaded Arabica coffee plantation (~80% tree cover) in central Veracruz, Mexico, using eddy covariance (EC) measurements made above the tree canopy and at the boundary between the stem space and canopy of the coffee crop. While measurements above the canopy were made continuously during the 1-year study period (October 2016 to September 2017), this was not possible for the above-soil level due to logistical considerations, and hence, annual Esoil was calculated from a relationship between the ratio of the actual to the equilibrium Esoil and surface soil water content. This empirical model was calibrated using 31 days of EC measurements, representing the range in surface soil water content observed during the study period. Examining the above-canopy and above-soil EC measurements for quality yielded similar results with regard to stationarity (99% and 85% of the time, respectively) and degree of energy balance closure (81% and 96%, respectively). The permanent and relatively dense vegetation cover provided by the shade trees and coffee plants reduced net radiation at the soil surface to only about 12% of the above-canopy value. Consequently, Esoil was a minor fraction of evapotranspiration (10–13%) and P (8–9%), with the spread reflecting uncertainties related to the failure to close the energy balance. In addition to the low-energy availability, Esoil may have been reduced by the presence of a litter layer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1472-1490
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number6
Early online date7 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • agroforestry
  • eddy covariance method
  • evapotranspiration
  • shaded coffee
  • soil evaporation
  • water availability


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