Impact of intercropping coffee with fruit trees on soil nutrients and coffee yields


Mithamo MW, Kerich RK and Kimemia JK

Coffee occupies some of the most potential land for crop production in Kenya and is mostly planted as a monocrop. Intercropping has been assumed to compete for nutrients, which may reduce coffee yields and quality. Consequently, policies promoting mono- cropping are preferred, irrespective of environmental degradation. In this regard, a study was carried out at Coffee Research Foundation (CRF), Kenya, to investigate the effect of intercropping coffee on soil quality and coffee yields. The trial was set in a Complete Randomized Block Design (CRBD) with seven treatments. Mature coffee trees (Coffea arabica L.) intercropped with avocadoes (Persea americana), macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia), mangoes (Mangifera indica), guavas (Psidium guajava), loquats (Eriobotrya japonica), bananas (Musa sapientum) and pure coffee stand), replicated thrice. Intercropping coffee with Mangoes and macadamia led to significantly higher potassium in the soil whereas coffee intercropped with avocados resulted in significantly higher phosphorus. Intercropping coffee with various fruit trees significantly depressed coffee yields but gave higher percentage Grade A beans. In contrast, guavas depressed both yields and percentage Grade A. This study shows that the impact of intercropping coffee is specific to the fruit tree used. It is recommended that for successful intercropping, good agronomic practices for both coffee and fruit used are paramount.

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