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Sunday, 25 February 2007

Can Earthworms Assist the Cocoa Industry?




By Sheila A. Uribe López, Esperanza Huerta Lwanga, Carlos Fragoso, Lorena Soto Pinto.

El Colegio de la Frontera Sur Unidad Villahermosa. Km. 15.5 Carr. Villahermosa-Reforma, Villahermosa Tabasco, c.p. 86280, México.

In the state of Tabasco the economic activity is dominated by the agricultural products, being the plantations of cocoa (Theobroma cocoa L.) the ones that provide important foreign currencies in the national and international market. Mexico in 2003 produced 1.9% of international cocoa production, being in the 11th place as an international producer. In Mexico, Tabasco is the first producer of cocoa. The cocoa production of Tabasco is settled down in the Chontalpa region where three types of handling are applied: traditional, intensive and organic management. This agroforestry system has ecological importance because of its vertical structure and due to the varieties of plants that are being used for the establishment of this culture, it serves as refuge for a great diversity of species either to the conservation of the soil. That makes favorable the development of the soils organisms as earthworms (oligoqueta). Their functions according to its ecological classification are: to transport, to mix and to bury the vegetable residuals from the surface to the interior of the soil, with their galleries promote the aeration and infiltration of the soil, they produce effects in soil structure when they are producing small or big casts depending on the species.

The aim of this study is to know if the handling of the cocoa systems can or can not  modify the structure and composition of  earthworms species, for what this study helps to settle down which are the conditions of fertility in the studied soils. On the other hand, they have been carried out few studies directed to manipulate endemic species that demonstrate their application to transform organic wastes, and to use them as vermicomposters in order to increase soil fertility with their vermicompost. That’s why the earthworm selection of the cocoa system can help cocoa systems producers.


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