Cacao provides one of the world’s most appreciated delicacies: chocolate. Yet, it is also one of the most jeopardized crops. Yearlong over-exploitation has led to staggering drops in production levels and degradation of its resource base. Like with every crop, sustainable production starts in the soil. AgroCares has the technology and the ambition to maintain cacao’s most precious production factor: the soil.
Declining yields due to soil depletion
For every ton of dry cacao about 35 kg of Nitrogen, 5 kg of Phosphorus and 50 kg of Potassium are removed from the soil. Only a fraction of these nutrients is replenished. This is especially true for smallholder farmers in West-Africa. Continuous mining of the soil for nutrients results in declining soil fertility levels, which in turn causes declining yield levels and crops that are more susceptible to diseases.
Restoring the soil’s nutrient balance
AgroCares provides on-the-spot technology to determine the soil fertility status and generate a soil management recommendation to reach a certain yield. Notably, just applying fertilizers (whether organic or mineral) is not enough. When it comes to proper soil management it is all about obeying the 4R strategy: right amount, right timing, right type and right placement. The recommendation module of the SoilCares Adviser Africa app includes all these elements.
The impact of AgroCares technology
AgroCares Scanner combined with the SoilCares Adviser Africa mobile app is a powerful tool for smallholder cacao farmers to improve their yield. Soil testing with AgroCares technology is usually offered by local agricultural service providers, equipped with AgroCares Scanner and app, who can provide farmers with a soil status report and fertilization advice on the spot.
Within 10 minutes the app gives a report that includes the soil status, the soil’s nutrient needs and a fertilizer recommendation. The fertilizer recommendation is calculated to take into account the soil’s nutrient needs and is crop-specific. This means that the service provider can choose cacao (mature and immature) from a list of crops and can provide farmers with fertilizer advice that is especially intended for this crop. Using this information, the farmer can apply the right type and quantity of fertilizer that will improve his cacao yield while keeping the soil healthy.
Example Screenshots from SoilCares Adviser Africa app
The fertilizer recommendation provided by the SoilCares Adviser Africa app consists of two parts: a soil correction plan and a correction for crop removal. With the first part we secure the sustainable use of the soil for years to come. The soil correction brings the soil to an adequate production level. At this level, the soil is resilient and robust and can support crop growth. The correction for crop removal replenishes the nutrients that are withdrawn from the soil at each harvest.
Available in several African countries
The SoilCares Adviser app is available in a number of African countries including Ivory Coast – the world’s leading cacao producer, supplying 33% of the cacao produced worldwide.