Response of Cacao (Theobroma Cacao) seedlings to different soil amendment ratios and watering regimes.

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A study was conducted in a gauze house of the Physiology Division at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), New Tafo-Akim, from August 2013 to February 2014 to determine the response of cacao (Theobroma cacao) seedlings to different soil amendment ratios and watering regimes. Sawdust obtained from the plant species Emeri (Terminalia ivorensis) was used as the soil amendment. This was mixed with topsoil. Three different sawdust mixing ratios and a control (no sawdust) formed the first treatment (M). The field capacity (F.C) of the topsoil to be used was determined. The field capacity determined, was halved (0.5 F.C) and quartered (0.25 F.C) to obtain the second treatment (W). Reduced water supply (0.25 F.C) significantly affected stomatal conductance, transpiration rate and plant leaf area. This affected the photosynthetic activity of plants especially for the control (no sawdust). The addition of sawdust to the soil helped retain soil moisture and this increased plant growth in those treatments compared to the control (no sawdust). Differences observed in vegetative and physiological parameters measured due to varying watering regimes and the addition of sawdust eventually affected the final total dry matter produced and partitioned. The results suggest that sawdust could be used as a soil amendment during cacao establishment.
Thesis submitted to the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Faculty Of Agriculture Of The College Of Agriculture And Natural Resources, Kwame Nkrumah University Of Science And Technology, Kumasi, Ghana in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the Award of Master of Philosophy degree in Plant Physiology.