PloS one

Changes in soil physical and chemical properties in long term improved natural and traditional agroforestry management systems of cacao genotypes in Peruvian Amazon.

PMID 26181053


Growing cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) in an agroforestry system generates a productive use of the land, preserves the best conditions for physical, chemical and biological properties of tropical soils, and plays an important role in improving cacao production and fertility of degraded tropical soils. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of two long term agroforestry systems of cacao management on soil physical and chemical properties in an area originally inhabited by 30 years old native secondary forest (SF). The two agroforestry systems adapted were: improved natural agroforestry system (INAS) where trees without economic value were selectively removed to provide 50% shade and improved traditional agroforestry system (ITAS) where all native trees were cut and burnt in the location. For evaluation of the changes of soil physical and chemical properties with time due to the imposed cacao management systems, plots of 10 cacao genotypes (ICS95, UF613, CCN51, ICT1112, ICT1026, ICT2162, ICT2171, ICT2142, H35, U30) and one plot with a spontaneous hybrid were selected. Soil samples were taken at 0-20, 20-40 and 40-60 cm depths before the installation of the management systems (2004), and then followed at two years intervals. Bulk density, porosity, field capacity and wilting point varied significantly during the years of assessment in the different soil depths and under the systems assessed. Soil pH, CEC, exchangeable Mg and sum of the bases were higher in the INAS than the ITAS. In both systems, SOM, Ext. P, K and Fe, exch. K, Mg and Al+H decreased with years of cultivation; these changes were more evident in the 0-20 cm soil depth. Overall improvement of SOM and soil nutrient status was much higher in the ITAS than INAS. The levels of physical and chemical properties of soil under cacao genotypes showed a marked difference in both systems.