Redressing Coffee Plantation Fertilizer Strategy Imbalance

Helping farmers unlock coffee yield potential by identifying the essential nutrients needed and using soil analysis to develop a fertilizer strategy.

February 28, 2021
2 mins

Timing of balanced fertilizer advice can be as crucial as the timing of application of the right blend of nutrients. This is illustrated by the provision of training in Colombia to women coffee farmers, in time to start to reverse the decline in their coffee yields in the October fertilizer application window.


Specialty coffee growers from the Cauca region of Colombia with Dr. Alveiro Salamanca Jiménez.

Specialty coffee growers from the Cauca region of Colombia with Dr. Alveiro Salamanca Jiménez.


Coffee Yields Suffer Without Balanced Nutrition

Although Colombia is the third largest coffee producer in the world, yield and quality can be a problem. That is the case for the women members of the Association of Women Coffee Producers of Pescador, in the Cauca region which, through the production and commercialization of specialty coffees, seeks to improve the quality of life of its members and their families.

As ICL agronomist Dr. Alveiro Salamanca Jiménez discovered, many of the Pescador group’s coffee farmers did not use soil analysis. Their NPK sources were chosen and used depending more on price than what is required by the coffee plants. This unbalanced nutrition is leading to their yields being lower than 1.5 t/ha. It is also the main cause of leaf senescence, or falling, after harvests and the continued inability of the coffee plantations to recover vigor year after year.


Lifting Skills, Hopes and Coffee Productivity

During an ICL fertilizer use training day held by Dr. Jiménez, the women were briefed about the essential nutrients needed to unlock yield potential and how soil analysis can help to develop a plan of what fertilizer strategy to use.

The recommendation arrived at is to apply ICL PLUS products Polysulphate or ICL PotashpluS in coffee plantations. These products are a good match for coffee crop requirements in terms of K, Ca, Mg and S – especially in the soils of Cauca region which typically have below optimum levels of these four elements. The agronomic advice also directed farmers to combine Polysulphate products with more efficient sources of N and P at the correct doses.

To date, some of the farmers have already used their new knowledge and have applied Polysulphate as suggested and are well on the way to achieving better coffee yields, quality, and profitability.