Current research by Mikaela Schmitt-Harsh (School of Public and Environmental Affairs) uses ecological assessments to determine carbon stocks in two tropical land-use systems, and uses remote sensing techniques to spectrally differentiate shade-grown coffee from forests. This research is focused in the western highlands of Guatemala. In 2010, vegetation inventories and soil samples were collected in shade-grown coffee systems and a mixed tropical dry forest system to determine carbon in three pools – aboveground, belowground, and soil.
Ecological assessments are complemented by remote sensing and GIS methodologies which are used to map coffee production systems in the region. To-date, little work has been done to inventory and monitor areas of shade coffee using remote sensing. Of the work that has been done, the method required to separate shade coffee from forests and other agroforestry systems is not well-understood, and resulting image classification accuracies are low. This research aims to expand the current literature by coupling spectral mixture analysis, topographic correction, and GIS analyses to separate shade coffee from tropical forest systems. Landsat TM imagery from 1990, 2000, and 2010 are also being used for a time-series analysis of land-cover change.
This research is supported by the National Science Foundation’s Geography and Spatial Sciences Program (DDRI #0927491), the Tinker Grant Foundation, and the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs at Indiana University.