My farm yields increase with soil sampling
Israel Guardado is a small coffee farmer at 1,340 meters above sea level in the Azacualpa River Microwatershed in the community of Naranjos, San Juan Municipality, Intibucá, Honduras. He lives with his wife and 5 children, and their main source of income throughout the year is coffee. On his 2.8 ha farm he produces Lempira, IHCAFE 90, and Catuai producing 12 qq per manzana (8.4 qq per ha).
“I had always fertilized as I thought fit or did what my neighbors recommended; we didn´t have any help. I would apply fertilizer to my coffee with the 12-24-12 formula at 4 oz per plant. I always put the fertilizer deep in the soil thinking it would get better absorbed. And I never thought to apply fertilizer to the leaves. I thought closer to the trunk was best. And I would ask myself, ‘Why isn’t my coffee productivity improving?’
“The yield would never go above 12qq per manzana, and when the plants had more coffee part of it would fall off. This was because I didn’t know what nutrients the soil needed to improve production. The coffee grain was very small, leaves would fall off a lot, and branches would dry out. I went to the Agro Service store, and they would recommend fungicides. They never said it was due to deficiencies in key elements like phosphorus, boron, nitrogen, or potassium.
“Thanks to the interventions with Blue Harvest since 2014 I have been participating in educational exchange field trips, field trainings, and receiving recommendations. I have been able to apply what I have learned. My productivity has increased, because I learned to take soil samples, analyze results, and prepare fertilizers based on the results. I am happy because I see my farm recuperating with strong plants with lots of fruit that haven’t fallen off the branches. Plus, I have spent less on fertilizer because I am buying exactly what the plants and soil need.
“As a farmer, I am now aware that if we fertilize without soil sampling, we will continue to produce coffee, but we won´t see improvement in yields, quality, or soil fertility. Plus, we will continue to waste money buying unnecessary fertilizer. We will continue to have weak coffee plants losing their leaves and fruit not because of pests or disease but because of nutritional deficiencies. I am convinced that soil sampling will help us reduce our production costs, improve our seed quality, and improve our yields. When I fertilize my coffee plants with what they need, yields increase.”