Why the Soil Is So Fertile Where They Grow Colombian Coffee

The “ocean of jungle” that still exists in parts of the Colombian coffee growing region is similar to what is seen in Hawaii or on the sides of Mt. Fuji in Japan. This lush growth is the result of volcanic activity. This is why the soil is so fertile where they grow Colombian coffee. Although volcanic eruptions can be hugely destructive they leave behind soil rich in nutrients that support healthy plant growth. The lava that flows intermittently from a volcano creates new land but the ash that can fall over hundreds of square miles is a constant source of nutrients. This is the case with Nevado Del Ruiz, the 15,500 foot volcano located 35 miles Southwest of Manizales, Colombia along the Colombian Northern Volcanic Front.

Nevado Del Ruiz Volcano Constantly Fertilizes the Colombian Coffee Growing District

Nevado Del Ruiz is a very broad volcano, capped by glaciers and extensive snow fields. There is evidence of it erupting going back 8,600 years and eruptions have been observed since 1570. This volcano was responsible for the greatest loss of life from a volcano in the history of Latin America when its 1985 eruption melted the dome of snow and ice. The resulting slurry of mud and ash inundated the towns of Amaro and Chinchina killing more than 20,000 people. Chinchina today is a thriving region for growing coffee and the town has come back. Amaro never rebuilt but coffee production on the regrown region is spectacular. Residents of Manizales routinely need to dust off their cars parked in the street and their balconies when the wind from the Southwest brings volcanic ash. This ash constantly fertilizes the departments of Caldas and Tolima.

Constituents of Colombian Volcanic Soil

Volcanic soil is in a soil category called anisols and can be derived from both lava and ash. This soil is rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, silicon and many other trace elements. When this kind of soil receives ample precipitation such as occurs across the coffee growing regions of Western Colombia it provides an ideal soil for growing virtually anything and especially an ideal soil for growing great Arabica coffee.

Continuing Activity of Nevado Del Ruiz

Nevado del Ruiz is in the news again due to increased emissions of ash. This is not really news in Manizales where “ Los Nevados” the several snow covered volcanos to the Southwest as well as the rest of the Northern Colombian Volcanic Front are a fact of life. Ever since the 1985 eruption and huge loss of life Colombia has diligently monitored the volcano and others. Meanwhile, Nevado Del Ruiz continues to fertilize the region of Western Colombia where they grow some of the best coffee in the world.

Colombian Northern Volcanic Front
Colombian Northern Volcanic Front

Caldera of Nevado Del Ruiz
Caldera and Snow-Covered Summit of Nevado del Ruiz

Rainfall Is Important for Volcanic Soil in Colombia

There are volcanic regions of the world that are barren. This is because they receive no rainfall. The rich nutrients in volcanic lava and ash are typically too strong and will diminish plant growth if there is not enough water. Manizales, the capital of the department of Caldas receives anywhere from five to nine inches of rain a month. Farther West near Buenaventura the annual rainfall is more than double that.

The bottom line is that Western Colombia is one of the most fertile regions in the world with high mountains that receive ample rainfall making it one of the best places on earth to grow coffee.

Why the Soil Is So Fertile Where They Grow Colombian Coffee – Slideshare Version

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