UNPRODUCTIVELY ACIDIC

Too much fertiliser ruining soil quality

Farmers have overused the soil in terms of applying fertiliser, Agricultre executive says

In Summary

• Testing enables farmers to determine the soil acidity, commonly called soil pH

• This is an important factor in plant growth as it affects nutrient availability to plants

A soil nutritionist from Soil Care demonstrates how the hand held soil kit is used for testing soil
A soil nutritionist from Soil Care demonstrates how the hand held soil kit is used for testing soil
Image: FILE

Taita Taveta Agriculture executive Davis Mwangoma has urged farmers to adopt soil testing for improved crop production.

The executive said soil testing is a key fundamental aspect of farming, especially in Kenya today. He said farmers are recording losses for applying the wrong fertilisers in their farms.

"We have a problem in our farms today because we have overused the soil in terms of applying fertiliser," Mwangoma said.

"Modern farming is not just about fertiliser. You have to test the pH to determine whether to apply lime, ammonium phosphate or calcium."

While congratulating a team of Kasigau Girls' School who invented a digital soil-testing kit, Mwangoma said his department will support their project to help realise a food-secure community.

He said the county is working closely with the national government and other development agencies to set up a soil-testing programme.

"The programme will help the government when distributing fertiliser to know what is suitable for different regions," he said.

Soil specialist Christopher Musyoka said the high cost of soil testing remains a major hindrance for farmers to determining the fertiliser to apply.

"Testing enables farmers to determine the soil acidity, commonly referred to as soil pH," he said. "This is an important factor in plant growth because it affects nutrient availability to plants."

The specialist said soil testing ranges between Sh1,500 and Sh2,000 per sample. He urged the government to set up infrastructure that will enable farmers to access soil sampling.

Further, he said, embracing new sampling technology would enable the county to realise the SDG2 on time.

"Through the analysis, farmers will be able to determine the exact amount of available crop nutrients that are in their farms, including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, pH, humus content, available lime and organic matter," he said.