Location: Sustainable Perennial Crops Laboratory2009 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
1. To assess the genotypic differences of cacao and alternate crops to abiotic stresses such as nutrient deficiency/elemental toxicities, and moisture stresses. 2. Cacao and alternate crops management such as cabruca, agroforestry and cover crops systems of cultivations and their impact on the soil quality factors such as soil physical, soil chemical and soil micro, macro and meso faunal activities. 3. To collaborate with Brazilian researchers to acquire and characterize wild cacao germplasm with the purpose of conserving of genetic diversity.
1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Fundação Pau Brasil actively promotes sustainable cacao production through collaborations with cacao research institutions. This specific cooperative agreement (SCA) will emphasize the coordination of research approaches of the USDA/ARS and all collaborating institution mentioned here and will promote cacao research and the conservation of unique cacao germplasm. The agreement promotes international partnerships and cooperation with the USDA-ARS.
3. Progress Report
The purpose of this Specific Cooperative Agreement is to provide a mechanism to fund collaborative research on assessment of genotypic differences of cacao and alternate crops to stresses such as nutrient deficiency, toxicities and drought, waterlogging, and further assess the influence of agroforestry based management systems on performance of cacao with Brazilian researchers. This is a collaborative research project that is carried out with Brazilian scientists from CEPLAC/CEPEC (Comissao Executiva do Plano da Lavoura Cacaueira/Centro de Pesquisas de Cacau) in Itabuna, BA; UESC (Universidade Estadual Santa Cruz) in Ilheus, BA; Mars Center for Cocoa Science in Itajuipe, BA; and the UENF (Universidade Estadual de North Fluminense) Campose, RJ. Soil quality is being assessed in various cacao agroforestry systems. In early assessment it appears that the agroforestry system of cacao cultivation maintains high soil fertility. Findings from cacao agroforestry systems suggest that this system of cacao management deposits greater amounts of plant residues on soil than mono culture cacao planting. This leads to accumulation of high levels of soil organic matter content and results higher soil biodiversity and improved its conservation. A study conducted to evaluate soil organic C pools in different size soil aggregate has shown that 70% of soil organic C in cacao agroforestry system is located inside the macroaggregates, representing well protected form of C. These early findings with cacao agroforestry system are useful to design sustainable cacao management systems for the Atlantic rainforest region of Brazil. Experiments are underway to identify the range of drought tolerance in cacao genotypes. Physiological and agronomic plant traits are being monitored and related to drought tolerance. Interrelationship between shade and waterlogging effects on cacao growth is also being evaluated. In greenhouse conditions, the effect of Cu toxicity and deficiencies on physiological traits of cacao is being evaluated. Physiological and morphological parameters observed in drought, flooding and micronutrient studies will be useful as plant traits in identification of superior cacao genotypes that could tolerate various abiotic stresses. The progress of this agreement was monitored by e-mails, phone, or personal communications as well as a site visit.