Organic cacao production improves soil microbiome

Photo Credit: Rodrigo Flores

Healthy soils have greater diversity of bacteria and fungi. Much like human gut health, greater diversity of microbes results in more efficient and complete nutrient uptake. For crop plants, better nutrient uptake increases their health and results in higher yields. An added bonus of healthy soils is that they can hold more water and reduce erosion and nutrient runoff. A recent study published in the journal Soil Biology found that the soil microbiome was significantly altered by organic production of cacao (chocolate) in a beneficial way. Soil analyses indicated that both the number of bacteria and diversity of bacteria types were significantly higher under organic cacao management. The same was true for abundance and diversity of fungi. These more diverse microbial profiles suggest that the organically managed soils will function better, making the crops healthier and benefiting the environment around the farm.