Costa Rica: Biodiversity in bananas

Paraquat provides Costa Rican banana farmers with effective vegetation management while reducing soil erosion


Displacement of solids (soil, mud, rock and other particles) usually by the agents of currents such as, wind, water, or ice by downward or down-slope movement.

Authoritative On-line References and Resources This site brings together reliable information on soil erosion from a wide range of disciplines and sources. It aims to be the definitive internet source for those wishing to find out more about soil loss and soil conservation.
and with no negative impact on plantation biodiversity


The variety of life in all its forms, levels and combinations. Includes ecosystem diversity, species diversity, and genetic diversity (IUCN, UNEP and WWF, 1991).

Authoritative On-line References and Resources EarthTrends is a comprehensive online database, maintained by the World Resources Institute, that focuses on environmental, social, and economic trends. Statistics on biodiversity indicators are available.
, which includes fish, frogs, lizards and birds.
Banana plantation in Costa RicaBanana production is highly successful in the humid tropics where the temperature for growth is optimal throughout the year. However, high rainfall means that in order to prevent water-logging, excess water is carried away by a network of drainage canals. These conditions encourage high infestations of pests, diseases and weeds, which must be controlled or managed by agrochemicals. However, the banks and canals of banana plantation drainage systems also provide habitats for wildlife. Banks are usually sown with perennial grasses


The leaves are "narrow" as opposed to the "broad" leaves of broadleaved weeds. Also called 'monocots' having one seed leaf opposed to 'dicots' having two seed leaves.

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The International Weed Science Society represents individual associations around the world. 
and often planted with low growing trees and shrubs to trap accidental spray drift and to reduce erosion during periods of high rainfall.
Paraquat is used to manage vegetation throughout banana plantations since it maintains the integrity of the soil, leaving plant root systems unaffected and hence reducing soil erosion. It is immediately adsorbed and deactivated on contact with soil and does not contaminate drainage water.  Since it is not systemic it does not damage the pseudo-stems of banana plants if accidentally sprayed.  In addition, a recent study* has confirmed that the long-term use of paraquat and other chemicals does not affect the biodiversity of the banana plantation. The sustainable benefits of this paraquat-based system are:
  • Considerable biodiversity can co-exist with long-term agrochemical use.
  • Paraquat can be used for weed management without affecting beneficial processes such as litter decomposition and soil respiration.
  • Paraquat assists management objectives to reduce soil erosion and maintain water quality.
*The study was a collaboration between Zeneca (now Syngenta), EARTH (Escuela de Agricultura de la Region Tropical Humeda), Del Monte and Dole, to investigate biodiversity in commercial and low-input banana plantations.