- The farmers during this exercise will be advised on the best types of fertilizers to use in their farms amongst various other methods to improve crop production.
- This comes even as various agricultural experts believe that increased acidity level in soil negatively affects food production in most parts of the country.
Kisii county government has kicked off an exercise to test soil samples in farms across the county with an aim of improving soil fertility and food production within the county.
As various regions across the country continue to grapple with cases of continued soil fertility, Governor Simba Arati-led administration has stepped in to ensure that farmers are well advised on means and ways to have effective crop growth.
The soil testing program targets more than 4,000 farmers across the county
The farmers during this exercise will be advised on the best types of fertilizers to use in their farms amongst various other methods to improve crop production.
This comes even as various agricultural experts believe that increased acidity level in soil negatively affects food production in most parts of the country.
According to Emannuel Momanyi, the Kisii county Chief Officer for Agriculture and Cooperative Development, they have shifted focus to soil testing.
Momanyi said this is because their county’s soil acid level is everyday increasing causing an effect of low production in terms of crop production.
"This is a department that is going ensure that there is food security and maintain the nutrition content in our crops, so the resolution here is to have the soil Ph tested, and maybe the various strategies to be put in to maintain or increase the level of production."
He added that the over 4000 farmers that will be met will help the county in terms of data and statistics when doing plans as a county.
Momanyi called upon the farmers within the area to cooperate when they are reached for this kind of exercise.
“Kindly avail yourself to the extension officers who will be moving around to test your soil because, at the end of the time, we would want to get the numbers statistics and the solution or way forward for us as a county in terms of food production and increasing food security,” he said.
According to experts, PH levels of between 5.5 and 7 are the ideal conditions for crops to register better production.
However, during the launch of the exercise and training for officers at the Kisii Agricultural Training College, samples were taken from various farms where it was established that they had PH levels of below 5.
This means that the farms had highly acidic soils that does not support the effective growth of crops.
It also comes at a time when farmers have already started preparing their farms as they wait for the planting season to begin.
The soil testing program is being done by Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems.
The activity is being implemented by IRT International with funding from USAID.
The devolved unit alongside the partners have engaged technical officers who will advise farmers on the type of fertilizer they should buy and use in their farmers after testing the samples.
A technical officer at KCDMS Seth Yake said they are targeting the farmers to ensure that they test the soil which therefore implies that with the rising cost of inflation, they are able to use their disposable income sufficiently and efficiently using fertilizers optimally in terms of quantity and quality.
“By doing the Ph test, we are going to see farmers having evidence on what kind of fertilizers to apply to the soils and also increased food production within the region."
KCDMS activity is working with 12 agro-dealers across 12 counties and an additional 13 markets currently to caution farmers against the microeconomic shocks resulting from the Ukraine-Russia war.
They are also addressing issues of the rising cost of inputs, particularly fertilizer and building resilience which incorporated agri-nutrition training that encompasses the issues of farmers not having the best nutrition.
According to Dr Esther Gikonya soil PH is an important Soil fertility attribute.
“The analysis we do is first analyze the soil Ph because this determines the availability of all the available plant nutrients in the soil."
She said there is also a possibility of the plant suffering aluminium toxicity, by lowering the development of the roots.
“I find this as a timely program because this is the most important attribute of good agricultural practices of testing the soil Ph, then there is first aid that can be given to the soil low in PH which is the application of lime. After this, we can move on to do the complete soil analysis so that we specifically identify the nutrient contained in a particular soil."
She added, “We have experiences where we have applied Lime and required nutrients after soil testing, and there have been increased yields”.
Farmers in the region said they have been using fertilizers randomly and without knowing the exact nutrients missing in their farms.
They expressed optimism that with the training and more learning, they will be more aware and have knowledge when it comes to their farms and soil Ph.
“This has come at the right time and I know our food production will increase because some of us just do our planting without considering some of these important factors. This is the way to go for most farmers and should be embraced,” said Maureen Nyanchoka.