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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 #347660

Research Project: Sustainable Production Systems for Cacao

Location: Sustainable Perennial Crops Laboratory

Title: Soil quality index for cacao cropping systems

Author
item ARAUJO, Q - Comissao Executiva Do Plano Da Lavoura Cacueira (CEPLAC)
item AHNERT, D - Universidade Estadual De Santa Cruz
item LOUREIRO, G - Comissao Executiva Do Plano Da Lavoura Cacueira (CEPLAC)
item FARIA, J - University Of Santa Cruz - Brazil
item FERNANDES, C - Federal University Of Bahia Reconcavo
item Baligar, Virupax

Submitted to: Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/15/2018
Publication Date: 4/30/2018
Citation: Araujo, Q.R., Ahnert, D., Loureiro, G.A., Faria, J.C., Fernandes, C.A., Baligar, V.C. 2018. Soil quality index for cacao cropping systems. Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science. 64:1892-1909.

Interpretive Summary: Soil quality indexes (SQI) are essential to define functional soil capacity within ecosystem boundaries in order to sustain biological productivity, maintain environmental quality, and promote plant and animal health. In this paper, we report the development of a Soil Quality Index (SQI) for cacao cropping systems to meet the nutritional criteria of the cacao crop, that improves the environmental safety of the cropping sites and meets the increasing demand for the production of quality cacao beans. The factors that most contributed to the increase or decrease of SQI scores were, respectively, mineral nutrition of plants and available soil water, and these in turn were related to indicators of soil chemical and physical properties of the soil. This information will be useful for researchers, extension workers and cacao farmers to adopt favorable SQI factors in order to improve the cacao management systems and achieve higher production.

Technical Abstract: The Soil Quality Index (SQI) for cacao cropping systems was developed to meet the nutritional criteria of the crop, the environmental safety of the cropping sites and the own increasing demand for the production and quality of cocoa. The SQI was determined with an additive model of the quality functions (QF): Available Water, Root Growth, Mineral Nutrition and Environmental Safety with potentially toxic elements. Each QF was designed with chemical and physical indicators of soil quality that were selected and submitted to the standardization of the scores. In this study, over 66% of the cacao field cropping sites were classified with regular SQI with a range of scores between 0.42 and 0.61. The field cropping site with the highest score (0.73) characterized by Argisol Red-Yellow Alitic tipic was rated with good SQI. In contrast, the field cropping sites characterized by Argisol Red-Yellow Dystrophic Cohesive abrupt (0.29), Cambisol Haplic Dystrophic tipic (0.39), Argisol Yellow Dystrophic latosolic (0.40) with the lowest scores were rated with bad SQI. The functions that most contributed to the increase or decrease on SQI scores were, respectively, Mineral Nutrition of Plants and Available Water, being the most related to indicators of soil chemical and physical fertility.