A comparative analysis on the use of organic and inorganic fertilizers in cocoa production and their impact on the soil: (a case study of selected cocoa farms in Tafo in the East- Akim District in the Eastern Region)

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In sustainable agricultural systems, recycling of nutrients is a major component of nutrient management. Cocoa as a perennial crop requires high nutritional supply for its proper growth and development. The continual uptake of nutrients from the soil by cocoa results in a likely degradation of soil nutrients overtime, hence there is the need to apply fertilizers in cocoa production to replenish the lost nutrients. A case study was conducted on ten cocoa farms in Tafo in the East-Akim District in the Eastern Region to investigate the use of organic and inorganic fertilizer application and their effects on soilphysico-chemical and biological properties and howthe effects impact cocoa production. Treatments included organic fertilization, inorganic fertilizer application and these were compared to control plots, which were plots of virgin forest. The treatments were fitted in a Completely Randomized, Design (CRD), each with five (5), replications. The inorganic farms showed increased levels of the plants’ major + nutrients such as available phosphorus, total nitrogen, exchangeable potassium (K ), 2+ 2+ Calcium (Ca ) and magnesium (Mg ). However these farms recorded reduced values for soil pH, organic matter content and reduction in soil biofauna both in biomass and diversity. Soil from the organic farms on the other hand recorded increased values in soil pH, organic matter content and more soil microbes were contained in such farms both in diversity and in biomass. The organic farms recorded low levels of soil major nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and exchangeable bases. The control plots (forests) on the other hand recorded the highest values in almost all the parameters considered. Additions of amendments did not significantly (p 0.05) influence the levels of the major soil nutrients that were measured, however subsequent application of chemical fertilizers was likely to render the soil acidic on the bases of the results obtained for soil pH. There were also significant differences between the values recorded for all the species of bacteria and fungi and also some species of Nematodes, with the three treatments. Results of the study suggested that integrating organic and inorganic fertilizers would be effective in restoring the productivity of degraded soils and enhance the growth and development of Cocoa.
A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of the Degree of Master of Science.