Project properties

Title Understanding nutrient cycling in cocoa production systems in Ivory Coast ( Theobroma cacao L. )
Group Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group
Project type thesis
Credits 33-36
Supervisor(s) A (Ambra) Tosto MSc; Prof. Dr. P.A. (Pieter) Zuidema; L. S. (Lotte) Woittiez MSc
Examiner(s) Prof. Dr. P.A. (Pieter) Zuidema or Prof. Dr. K. (Ken) Giller
Contact info Ambra.tosto@wur.nl; pieter.zuidema@wur.nl; lotte.woittiez@wur.nl
Begin date 2018/09/01
End date
Description Cacao is the most important export crop in west African countries, with Ivory Coast and Ghana producing 70% of the world production, mostly in smallholder plantations. Realized yields however are much less than the potential value calculated for the region. One of the suggested causes of this low yield is poor nutrient availability. To better understand possible nutrient limitations, basic information on nutrient cycling in the cocoa tree is required.
Theobroma cacao is a cauliflorous species with flowers appearing both on the main stem and in the canopy. This project aims to understand and quantify the nutrient content (NPK) of organs of cocoa trees (fruit, leaves, stem, roots) and flows of nutrients (leaf loss, fruit harvest, root turnover) and to use this data to quantify a nutrient balance of cocoa production systems. Some basic information is available already from a previous MSc thesis study.
The project comprises field work with a duration of 2-3 months in the research station of CNRA in Divo, Ivory coast. The field work consists of sample collection from different types of cocoa tissue within a newly set up experiment. Field work will be in November-December 2018 or June-July 2019. In addition, nutrient analyses will be conducted and interpreted, and optionally results may be used to update/expand a simple nutrient cycling model.

Learning outcome: Cocoa nutrient cycling, statistical analyses, field work skills, simple nutrient modelling

Required skills: We are looking for an enthusiastic student, with very good adaptation skills and a working knowledge of French since in the research stations very few people speak English.

Agroforestry/ Ecophysiology /Africa/ Tropical zone
Used skills
Requirements REG-31806 Ecological Methods I
or other basic statistics course