Ask your Agronomist: Go for specific fertiliser that offers all crop needs at once

Friday March 31 2017
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A farmer harvests mature coffee beans in a farm. For a bearing coffee tree, the need for potassium and nitrogen are more than three times its need for phosphorous. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Q: I am Emily from Othaya in Nyeri County. Please tell me whether I can continue using DAP, CAN and NPK on mature coffee trees alongside Yara Coffee fertiliser.

You are not the only one grappling with this dilemma. The fertiliser type and amounts to apply on your coffee trees should be dictated by your yield expectation, the coffee crop requirements as well as your soil conditions, and application timed to match periods of peak demands by the crop.

Coffee as a crop has a higher requirement (nutrient removal rate) for potassium and nitrogen than phosphorous.

For a bearing coffee tree, the need for potassium and nitrogen are more than three times the need for phosphorous. As such a product such as DAP that will principally supply phosphorous will not give you much benefit even as it will cost you much.

The other product, CAN is a good source of the much-needed nitrogen. It also supplies calcium, but it is important to note that the calcium in this product is not the soluble one. This means that the nutrient is not immediately available for uptake by your coffee tree.

Yet calcium is a critical element for coffee, influencing the quality of the beans you produce. The solution, therefore, is to apply a fertiliser that provides calcium in a soluble, plant available form.


YaraLiva NITRABOR for example is such a source of soluble calcium as calcium nitrate, with an added advantage of supplying boron within the same product.

The NPK you refer to (17:17:17) is certainly a good source for nutrition of coffee, supplying the three key elements N, P and K. It is also good especially for regions with phosphorous deficiencies.

However, on its own, it’s still inadequate considering that coffee, just like other crops requires a balanced nutrition for good productivity.

Against this background, purpose to supply your coffee with a balanced fertiliser programme using products that will give primary nutrients N, P and K as well as secondary nutrients calcium and sulphur and very importantly the micro-nutrients zinc and boron.

The Yara Crop Nutrition programme for coffee is a solution developed and shown appropriate to indeed supply all the requirements and ensuring improved productivity and profitability of coffee farmers.

For crop-specific fertiliser recommendations, please consult your Yara Agronomist near you or the Yara-accredited stockists and distributors in your area.

Vitalis Wafula
Yara East Africa Regional Agronomist

Contact us:
Western and Nyanza, Daniel Mui on 0702466343.
Rift Valley, Dennis Nyandaya on 0702466372.
Central, Robert Ngatia on 0702466318.