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Soil quality index for cacao cropping systems

Araujo, Quintino, Ahnert, Dario, Loureiro, Guilherme, Faria, José, Fernandes, Cinira, Baligar, Virupax
Archiv für Acker- und Pflanzenbau und Bodenkunde 2018 v.64 no.13 pp. 1892-1909
Cambisols, cropping systems, models, plant nutrition, plantations, root growth, soil management, soil quality, toxic substances, Brazil
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 increasing demand for the production and quality of cocoa. Available water function (AWF), root growth function (RGF), mineral nutrition of plants function (MNF) and environmental safety function (ESF) for potentially toxic elements were included in the additive model of SQI for cacao cropping systems. In this study, over 66% of the cacao fields cropping sites were classified as regular SQI with a range of scores between 0.42 and 0.61. The field cropping site with the highest score (0.73) characterized as typic Alitic Red-Yellow Argisol was rated with high SQI. In contrast, the field cropping sites characterized as abrupt Cohesive Dystrophic Red-Yellow Argisol (0.29), typic Dystrophic Haplic Cambisol (0.39), and latosolic Dystrophic Yellow Argisol (0.40) were rated with low SQI. MNF and AWF were the functions that most contributed to the increase or decrease of SQI scores. The SQI adapted expressed the agro-environmental reality of cacao cropping systems of Bahia, Brazil, and this could be a versatile tool to subsidize the adequate soil management of cacao plantations around the world.