Plantation agriculture in the tropics - environmental issues

A.E. Hartemink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Plantation agriculture is more than 400 years old and contributes to the regional and national economies in many tropical countries. This paper reviews some of the main environmental issues related to plantation agriculture with perennial crops, including soil erosion, soil fertility decline, pollution, carbon sequestration and biodiversity. Soil erosion and soil fertility decline are of concern in some areas, but in most plantations these are being checked by cover crops and inorganic fertilizer applications. Few studies have been conducted on the issue of carbon sequestration under perennial plantation cropping. Reductions in deforestation yield much greater benefits for a reduction in CO2 emissions than expanding plantation agriculture. The biggest threat to biodiversity is the loss of habitat through expansion of the plantation area. Despite the environmental problems and concerns, this review has shown that crop yields of most perennial crops have increased over time due to improved crop husbandry including highyielding cultivars and improved soil management. It is likely that more attention will be given to the environmental aspects of plantation cropping due to the increasing environmental awareness in tropical countries
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-21
JournalOutlook on Agriculture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • soil-erosion
  • land-use
  • southwestern nigeria
  • agroforestry systems
  • different management
  • coffee plantations
  • nutrient status
  • tree crops
  • costa-rica
  • tea


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