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

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 India to coffee farmers, in time to start to reverse the decline in their coffee yields in the fertilizer application window.

Coffee Yields Suffer Without Balanced Nutrition

Odisha, Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Keral and Karnataka are the top coffee producing states in the country. Although India is the seventh largest coffee producer in the world, yield and quality can be a problem. That is the case for the members of the Association of Coffee Producers of Tamil Nadu, in the southern region which, through the production and commercialization of specialty coffees, seeks to improve the quality of life of its farmers and their families.

As ICL’s agronomist discovered, many of the 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 the farmers 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 FertilizerpluS 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 southern 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.