Coffee Agriculture Science Level: Genius

Wow, you’re really into this. Awesome. Make sure to check out the craft your own roast page here, now back to the agriculture…

Quality coffee production depends on having the correct cultivar (plant strain), input ratios of nutrients, and optimal environment. So where does the farmer come into the picture? The farmer’s goal is to produce the maximum yield of quality coffee beans, every season. In order to accomplish this goal, an ongoing monitoring of the inputs that the farmer cannot control influences his decisions regarding the inputs or risk reductions that he can control.

  • Soil pH, soil moisture content, water pH, and water electrical conductivity directly affect nutrient availability and absorption rates in all plants. Modification or treatment of natural irrigation systems have large upfront costs, but can dramatically improve plant yields and crop revenues. SyH Coffee is proud to support various local micro-finance initiatives that provide small farmers access to the money they need to invest in their farms to improve efficiencies and increase crop revenues.

  • Plant yields, fertilizer consumption, initial soil geochemistry, slope angle, latitude and altitude all affect the amount of soil that is required to supply the nutrients needed by a single plant. Plant spacing and pruning is a strategic balance in order to keep the plant’s yield and quality high, while fully optimizing land usage with minimal artificial inputs such as fertilizers or pesticides. All of these factors determine the plant’s healthy and sustainable growth rate. In order for the sun to be the limiting factor for this growth (discussed earlier) the optimal shade percentage is then calculated, and the appropriate spacing of shade trees determined.

 

  • Weather events are out of the control of the farmer, but erosion control based on previous precipitation patterns can make an enormous difference in the amount of topsoil and nutrients lost to seasonal erosion. Sustainable long term coffee farming, which usually occurs on valley slopes, can only be achieved by investing in effective erosion control.
  • Coffee plants have a limited lifespan and peak in productivity around years 4-10. The approach to crop rotations and planting philosophy are important in determining the crop yield per year, and maximizing the years of coffee production per plant before replanting is necessary. Strategic plant trimming, sometimes varying from one part of the farm to another, has been proven to have a dramatic effect on total yield over the lifespan of a single plant.

All of these agricultural management factors offer a tradeoff between production cost, production yield, and production quality. Solanos y Hermanos partners with farmers who place priority on sustainable production quality.

Multi-generational family farms that are operated by an agricultural engineer focusing on sustainable production quality are extremely uncommon. As such, we are enormously proud of the quality of coffee grown on the Buena Vista Solano Family Farm. We put a lot of energy and effort into insuring that quality is maintained during every single aspect of the journey that unfolds between the seed and that delicious, steaming cup that adds one of the purest, simplest pleasures of life to your day.

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