By Christy van Beek - Director of the SoilCares Foundation
Many African countries aspire to increase productivity in a sustainable way. It is well known that managing soil fertility is essential to sustainably improve yields. Managing soil fertility starts with understanding the nutrient status of the soil and the nutrient requirements of the crops. Until recently executing soil tests with practical fertilizer recommendations were almost non-existent, time-consuming and expensive in remote areas.
AgroCares introduced Soil Scanners with a NIR sensor and connected to the SoilCares Adviser app in Kenya in early 2017. More than 20,000 farmers have benefitted until now from this on-the spot soil testing and practical fertilizer recommendations and many testimonies of successful results have been collected. With support of Kenya Market Trust (KMT) field experiments have been conducted to obtain quantitative results and to demonstrate the importance of soil testing to farmers.
In total 10 demonstration plots were established in 3 different counties: Kisii (5), Nyamira (4) and Kericho (1). All plots were planted with maize in the long rainy season of 2019. On each site, 2 adjacent plots of 10x10 m2 were selected; one was treated under conventional (farmers) practice and one was treated following the recommendations after soil testing with AgroCares scanner.
In all plots where SoilCares’ recommendations were followed, yields exceeded the plots where Farmer’s practice were followed. On average, yields were 25% higher on the SoilCares recommendation plots. Furthermore, there was no significant difference in the amounts that farmers spent on fertilizers between the Farmers practice plots and the SoilCares recommendation plots.
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