The CocoaSoils program envisages two main types of Trials:  newly planted researcher managed core trials (CTs), and farmer-managed Satellite Trials in existing plantations (STs). The STs evaluate under real farming conditions the effects of good agricultural practices and of improved nutrient supply on the cocoa bean yield. The CTs focus on the best nutrient composition and amount to attain early and high cocoa bean production. The CTs are “perfectly managed” and therefore can extract information on the effects of plant nutrition on cocoa growth. The CTs and STs will generate the necessary evidence for productivity increases through good agricultural practices and improved nutrient supply.

The aim of the first generation of STs is to evaluate the impact of optimized cocoa tree management and nutrient supply. Here a new system of estimating the nutrient demand of the cocoa is compared with the existing fertilizer recommendations. The growth, pod set and bean yield responses to both fertilizer regimes are compared with an un-fertilized control and their interactions with shade level and management practices. The specific objective is to validate fertilizer recommendations in farmers’ fields over a wide range of representative environments, and to provide site-specific and reliable advice on how to increase cocoa production in a profitable manner.

The STs comprise four treatments in which the management activities are monitored and different levels of pest and disease control are applied. Farmers, together with technicians apply insecticides, fungicides, and fertilizer.  They conduct weeding, sanitary pruning, structural pruning and take measurements of the tree growth, shade levels and cocoa bean production.

There are currently 393 Satellite Trial sites: Ghana (130), Côte d’Ivoire (133), Cameroon (64) and Nigeria ( 66).