Natural and Anthropogenic Sources of Cadmium in Cacao Crop Soils of Santander, Colombia

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Elevated cadmium (Cd) levels in cacao products have been detected in a major cacao producing region of Colombia, with concentrations well above those permitted for export and posing a potential threat to human health. Geochemical and petrographic analyses of fertilizer, soil and rocks from three farms were used to determine the origin of Cd. Parent rocks were the main source of the Cd in soils, while organic fertilizer may have further contributed to elevated metal content in one farm. High Cd levels in the organic fertilizer were most likely due to bioaccumulation, since it was sourced from animals in the same area. Even though the soil pH range, elevated OM content and the presence of Mn and K diminish bioavailability, the extremely high Cd content in soils results nonetheless in significant uptake by the plants and subsequent accumulation in cocoa beans. Traditional methods to reduce Cd adsorption, such as the addition of calcium, will not be effective in this case. Instead, the selection of cacao species that are naturally low accumulators and amendment with soil microorganisms with mineralization and biotransformation capabilities, as well as testing of fertilizers before application, could all be cost-effective solutions to reduce Cd in the final product.
© 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/). The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Soil Systems, 2023, available online at: . Keywords: cadmium; cacao; soil analysis; autochthonous origin of Cd; allochthonous origin of Cd
Joya-Barrero, V.; Huguet, C.; Pearse, J. Natural and Anthropogenic Sources of Cadmium in Cacao Crop Soils of Santander, Colombia. Soil Syst. 2023, 7, 12. 10.3390/soilsystems7010012