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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Sustainable Perennial Crops Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #305777

Research Project: Sustainable Production Systems for Cacao

Location: Sustainable Perennial Crops Laboratory

Title: Heavy metals in soils of cocoa plantation (Theobroma cacao L.)

item AREVALO-GUARDINI, ENRIQUE - Tropical Crop Institute (ICT)
item CERPA, MEYER OBANDO - Tropical Crop Institute (ICT)
item CERNADES, LUIS ZUNIGA - Tropical Crop Institute (ICT)
item Baligar, Virupax
item HE, Z - University Of Florida

Submitted to: Journal of Applied Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/29/2016
Publication Date: 12/1/2016
Citation: Arevalo-Guardini, E., Cerpa, M., Cernades, L., Baligar, V.C., He, Z. 2016. Heavy metals in soils of cocoa plantation (Theobroma cacao L.). Journal of Applied Ecology. 15:81-89.

Interpretive Summary: Cacao is grown on a wide range of soils throughout tropical America. Some of these soils could contain high levels of heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, nickel, iron, copper, zinc and manganese. These could be very toxic to production potentials of cacao. Accumulation of these heavy metals in cocoa beans results in considerable reduction in market value that drastically affects the economic wellbeing of resource poor cocoa farmers. In this paper we report the range of these heavy metals in soils of northern and central Peru and assess the relationship between soil properties and levels of extractable heavy metals. The results show that the mean values of heavy metals found in these soils were below the ranges established for contaminated soils. This information will be of use to farmers and traders of cocoa beans in meeting the regulations for heavy metal contaminations. Better understanding of soil chemical properties and levels of these heavy metals will help to reduce the bioavailability of these toxic heavy metals to cacao plants.

Technical Abstract: Cocoa has experienced significant growth in recent years in Peru and the presence of heavy metals in the soils of these plantations is a potential problem for the export of this product. Contents of heavy metals (Cd, Ni, Pb, Fe, Cu, Zn, Mn) in soils from 19 plantations that have been in production for between 10 and 15 years were evaluated in the main cocoa growing areas between Amazonas, Cajamarca (northern region) and the Huánuco, San Martín (central region). Soil characterization analyzes were also conducted. The results show favorable growing conditions for cocoa. The mean values of heavy metals found were below the ranges established for contaminated soils.