Recycling on-farm waste provides a feasible and sustainable source of organic fertilizer for cacao production
A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Engineering determined that using organic fertilizer produced from local sources of agricultural waste and manure results in comparable yields of cacao to that grown with synthetic fertilizers. Organic production prohibits the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. While these fertilizers can be expensive, organic alternatives like commercially made composts can be even less affordable and impractical to apply across isolated farms on steep mountain slopes commonly found in coffee and cacao production. The organic fertilizers in this study were able to increase cacao production with affordability and feasibility, offering a soil fertility option for farmers who want to grow certified organic cacao or reduce the economic and environmental costs of soil fertility management in general. The study compared the effects of various types of organic fertilizers to synthetic nitrogen fertilizer on cacao yields. The types of organic fertilizer tested were: chicken manure, cow manure, cacao fruit pulp, and cacao pod husks. The highest yield was obtained using inorganic fertilizer. However, organic fertilizers also increased production, with the most effective type being cacao fruit pulp, followed by chicken and cow manures, and then cacao pod husks. While less effective than synthetic fertilizers, the organic fertilizers offer more affordable and feasible options that recycle on-farm waste, providing more sustainable soil fertility solutions.
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