Skip Navigation

Arachis Cover Crop Farm Trial

Project Summary

In FY 2021 NRCS Ecological Sciences Division (ESD), Soils, MLRA office and field office conservationists initiated a new farm trial project funded by the National NRCS Plant Materials Center (PMC) to establish Arachis pintoi (perennial peanut) as a conservation cover for Puerto Rico's coffee farms. Coffee farms in Lares, Jayuya, San Sebastián and Utuado were visited and evaluated in December 2020 to determine if they met study requirements. A. pintoi was planted at six (6) coffee farms in June 2021, and the sites are being sampled and evaluated monthly.

TOP: One square meter tool used to measure and gather propagation data for validation of Arachis pintoi as a conservation cover for coffee plantations; BOTTOM: Coffee planted under temporary plantain shade with Arachis pintoi as a conservation cover, 2 months after planting. (Utuado, PR)

September 2021 Update

During the last week of August 2021, our Ecological Sciences Division staff joined the Soils Division to gather data from the A. pintoi conservation cover farm plots (see below). NRCS State Biologist Ricardo Colón and Pathways Student Gustavo Diaz collected data about vegetation and biodiversity present in a one-square-meter sampling area to evaluate wildlife diversity since the project was started on the coffee farms. NRCS State Agronomist Edrick Marrero collected data on percentage ground cover of A. pintoi and the velocity of the plants' growth to cover the area. Natural Resources Specialist Jayson Más collected data on the overall benefits of the Multistory Cropping System (A. pintoi - coffee shrubs - shade trees), specifically the cost(s) associated with practice implementation to establish future scenarios for coffee operations.

July 2021 Update

On July 15, 2021, NRCS State Agronomist Edrick Marrero visited Hacienda Eucalipto in Lares, PR, to collect data on the percentage of ground covered by the newly-planted A. pintoi and the plants' growth rate and soil coverage rate on the farm plots (below).Measuring Arachis pintoi growth rate at Hacienda Eucalipto in Lares, PR, on 15 July 2021.

 

Arachis Planting

June 2021 Arachis pintoi demonstration project Planting InvitationIn June 2021 NRCS Caribbean held three Field Days where NRCS Conservationists and Pathways student interns planted A. pintoi (perennial peanut, above) in a series of demonstration plots on various coffee farms to evaluate use of the plant as a conservation cover across different soil series in Puerto Rico. The Field Days provided training to field staff, Pathways students and selected farmers about using A. pintoi as a conservation cover and also helped our producers install the field trials due to a labor shortage. The Field Days were coordinated by the agency's Ecological Sciences Division (ESD) and the Civil Rights Advisory Committee (CRAC).

The first Field Day was held on June 11. Employees and students met at 7:30 am at the San Sebastián Field Office and divided the Pathways students into two groups to plant A. pintoi at a San Sebastián coffee farm and a Lares coffee farm. NRCS Conservationists provided A. pintoi project information and planting instructions to the Pathways students and farm workers; described common coffee conservation practices [No till (329), Conservation Covers (327) and Contour Farming (330)]; and answered questions about NRCS Programs and services and the Conservation Planning process.

"I had a great time meeting this new generation of NRCS' future employees full of initiative and commitment to conservation and agriculture," said San Sebastián Soil Conservationist Michelle Catoni. "Having the opportunity to share my experiences and knowledge with them was very satisfying. They were able not only to know more about our work but also to know and experience the farmer’s hard work first-hand."

Planting Day 1: June 11, 2021
Collage of photos from Arachis planting field day in San Sebastian and Lares 11 Jun 2021. San Sebastián Team
  • Michelle Catoni, Soil Conservationist
  • Gustavo Diaz, Pathways
  • Kamila Reyes, Pathways
  • Nannette Torres, Pathways
  • Brittney Vazquez, Pathways
700 A. pintoi seedlings planted
Lares Team
  • Javier Torres, Soil Conservationist;
  • Mario Rodríguez, State Resource Conservationist
  • Giancarlos Medina, Pathways
  • Anthony Arroyo, Pathways
1,100 A. pintoi seedlings planted

Field Day 2 was held June 18 to plant out two field trials in Utuado with participants from the ESD and State Office.

Planting Day 2: June 18, 2021
Hector Rivera Farm Team
  • Francisco Rivera, Plant Materials Specialist
  • Jayson Más, Natural Resources Specialist
  • José Victor Jiménez, Administrative Support Specialist
  • Lizandra Nieves, Resource Soil Scientist
1500 A. pintoi seedlings planted
Dr. Sergio Matos Farm Team
  • Manuel Matos, State Soil Scientist;
  • Edrick Marrero, State Agronomist
  • Axel Acevedo, soil Conservationist
  • Chaives Faz, SWCD conservationist
  • Arben Albino, SWCD conservationist
925 A. pintoi seedlings planted
Collage of photos of the June 18, 2021, Arachis pintoi planting activity in Utuado.

Field Day 3 was held June 25 to plant out two field trials in Jayuya. Staff from the Utuado, Juana Díaz & Caguas Field Offices participated.

Planting Day 3: June 25, 2021
Photo collage of Arachis pintoi field planting day in Jayuya, PR, on 25 June 2021.
Marisabel Ramos Farm Team Roberto Atienza Farm Team
  • Edrick Marrero, State Agronomist
  • Nicis Vega, Juana Díaz DC
  • Jennifer Cardona, Soil Conservationist
  • Gustavo Díaz, Pathways
  • Giancarlos Medina, Pathways
  • Kamila Reyes, Pathways
1700 A. pintoi seedlings planted
  • Mario Rodríguez, State Resource Conservationist
  • Esteban Padilla, Soil Conservationist
  • Michael Aponte, ACES Conservationist
  • Luis Antonio Marquez
  • Lorimar Figueroa
  • Angel Padilla, Pathways
  • Sullyam Colón, Pathways
  • Jorge Torres Santana, Pathways
1650 A. pintoi seedlings planted

Background

NRCS Ecological Sciences (ESD), Soils, MLRA office and field office conservationists visited various coffee farms in Puerto Rico in December 2020 to evaluate sites for a new farm trial project funded by the National NRCS Plant Materials Center (PMC) to establish Arachis pintoi (perennial peanut) as a conservation cover. Sites in Lares, Jayuya, San Sebastián and Utuado were visited and evaluated to determine if they met study requirements.

This project is a partnership between NRCS Caribbean Area and the National NRCS Plant Materials Center (PMC) to conduct field trials of A. pintoi as a conservation cover for coffee production. NRCS will purchase A. pintoi seedlings from local nurseries. The nurseries will deliver the plants to local farmers identified by NRCS, and the field trials will be managed and assessed by NRCS ESD and MLRA Soil Survey staff.

A series of demonstration plots will be established on farms across different soil series and evaluated for a minimum of 12 months. The plots are selected based on their coffee management scenarios, qualities and by soil series. Plant establishment success and behaviors, soil health indicators, biology and wildlife changes, and other indicators will be monitored and evaluated.

The Caribbean Area MLRA Soil Survey Office will lead two full soil characterization samplings of Pellejas and Lirios soils and conduct standard dynamic soil property sampling in the selected plots. For three years the plots will be resampled to compare the effects of the conservation cover on the dynamic soil properties and soil health. The soil groups to be studied include Pellejas, Lirios, Maricao, Los Guineos, Humatas and Mucara, which are representative of Puerto Rico’s coffee region.

A. pintoi is mainly propagated by asexual propagation by cuttings, stem pieces or vegetative mats. In Puerto Rico it is available in plant nurseries and its main use is for ornamental horticulture. A. pintoi has been selected as a conservation cover for its ability to suppress weed growth, ability to create a uniform cover, nitrogen contribution to the soil, ability to grow in a wide range of soil pH, nematode resistance and soil health benefits. Once the use of A. pintoi as a conservation cover is validated, NRCS will create practice scenarios for the plants’ use in conservation incentive programs like EQIP. For more information contact Mario Rodríguez at Mario.Rodriguez@usda.gov.

<- back to Ecological Sciences page

Photo collage: conservationists and soil scientists celebrating on a coffee plantation; closeup photo of A. pintoi; soil scientists and conservationists evaluating site conditions for farm trial.