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Effective Microorganisms in Coffee Production

Effective Microorganisms – Making Your Coffee Better, and the Farmers Behind It Happier.
effective microorganisms being developed through organic composting in Colombia Kaffe Bueno
Effective Microorganisms growing at Yiver's farm. Photo by: Kaffe Bueno

Yiver and her coffee plants, grown with organic fertiliser using effective microorganisms.

It is becoming increasingly important for farmers to continuously enhance their efforts in sustainable agriculture. This is extremely important for small-scale farmers as it helps them make better use of their scarce resources, help them maintain their plants free from diseases and pests and make their plants produce higher yields and higher quality product.

Sustainable agriculture is also key in fighting climate change. Organic waste from coffee production (coffee pulp and husk) generates toxic gases like methane, which is 30x more harmful to the environment than CO2. The decomposition of coffee pulp and husk also generates pungent odors and attracts flies, bugs and diseases. Most commonly, coffee pulp (roughly 80% of the coffee cherry’s body) is discharged into local waterways, contaminating water supply downstream, rivers and streams; decreasing water pH, and decreasing watershed biodiversity.

In Santa Lucia, Yiver’s farm, she has started using effective microorganisms along with other organic matter to boost pulp decomposition in a controlled environment and produce bio fertilisers.

Kaffe Bueno at organic coffee farm in colombia, coffee pulp decomposing to produce effective microorganisms
Ottoniel (left) showing Alejandro (right) where they decompose coffee pulp with other organic matter to produce EM

What are effective microorganisms (EM)?

EM are a combination of naturally-occurring organisms that can be applied as inoculants to increase the microbial diversity of soil ecosystem. They consist mainly of the photosynthesising bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, yeasts, actinomycetes and fermenting fungi.There is evidence that EM inoculation to the soil can improve the quality of soil, plant growth and yield (Kengo and Hui-lian, 2000).

How are effective microorganisms used as bio-fertiliser?

Yiver makes a mixture of EM, coffee pulp, sugar cane honey, beer, fermented milk and natural liquid carbon. She allows this mixture to ferment for 30 days, feeding it every 8 days with fermented milk and sugar cane honey.

The result is an organic fertiliser that works as an ecological alternative to commercial fertilisers.

Cristian, Yiver's son, mixing ingredients. Photo by: Yiver Vargas

What are the applications of this organic fertiliser? And how does it affect your coffee?

  • Decompose pulp and make it more compatible to the elements that the coffee plant needs.

  • Wash and clean the livestock and keep the fleas and worms away. The milk Yiver uses for the fertiliser comes from the livestock in her farm.

  • Fumigate crops – pest control.

  • Improve the soil.

  • Improve plant health and increase yield.

Yiver applies 1kg of this bio-fertiliser to each and every coffee plant in her farm.

It makes the plants greener and healthier, as it boosts photosynthesis enabling an increase of CO2 plant intake. This means that the coffee plant will produce more sugar, and hence the coffee will result with a sweeter taste. This is a characteristic trait of Kaffe de Yiver.

How do effective microorganisms affect the farmer's bottom line?

This waste management technique helps the coffee beans to grow bigger, meaning that the farmers are able to sell their coffees at higher prices.

By producing bio fertilisers with effective microorganisms, costs of production decrease substantially. They don’t have to spend money on expensive and usually chemical fertilisers, but rather make their own. From 1,000 quintals of pulp, 700 quintals of organic fertiliser can be produced. Cost comparison made by USAID; Organic Fertilizers Coffee Production, Environment:

      1 quintal of commercial fertiliser = $25 USD / 22 Euros / 160 DKK       1 quintal of EM-based organic fertiliser = $1.3 USD / 1.10 Euros / 8 DKK


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