Fertilization Practices on the Farms
Our team fertilizes twice a year, and carefully targets every tree with an appropriate amount of fertilizer, rather than spraying entire lots. This is a laborious process, but the way in which fertilizer is applied greatly impacts its effectiveness in producing excellent coffee as well as protecting the local environment. Precise application of fertilizers is important for a few reasons:
First, this minimizes nutrient runoff (leaching) and protects our local watersheds. Even when using organic fertilizers, excess nutrients from agricultural operations are often flushed from soils and eventually make their way into local waterways (eutrophication). Algae and other plants bloom in these conditions and use the available oxygen in the waters. Native plants and animals are essentially suffocated by the sudden changes in the environment, and this shift dramatically affects bodies of water.
Watershed protection is one of GCC’s key impact initiatives, so aside from planting bamboo and other plants that both filter water and prevent soil erosion, fertilizing in an intelligent manner mitigates upstream stressors.
Second, targeted application maintains consistent soil acidity, which in turn increases the availability of key nutrients (coffea arabica thrives in soils around 6 on the pH scale). Ideal soil conditions allow roots to enjoy a more efficient exchange of nutrients between the soil and plants. More nutrients lead to healthier development and ultimately, more flavor.
Our team uses Yara fertilizers with a composition specifically suited for Salgar’s climate and soil conditions. Like most fertilizers, the main three nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.Nitrogen is essentially a plant’s protein, and is key for development and yield. Too little nitrogen, and the coffee trees might not develop to their potential. Too much nitrogen, and the soil will “burn” the plants via overexposure and highly acidic soils. Phosphorus helps make photosynthesis and energy production possible, and potassium fortifies a tree’s ability to resist diseases or protect itself against harsh climates.
By spraying only around the base of each tree, GCC’s production team makes sure every bit of fertilizer can be absorbed by each coffee tree rather than surrounding shrubs and grasses. This meticulous process isn’t easy, but it is worth going the extra mile to produce the very best coffee, and to care for our ecological community.