Soil tests will help farmers improve harvest
Farmers in Tharaka-Nithi and Meru counties are expecting a bumper harvest after the introduction of high-end technology soil scanners by Chuka University.
The farmers will have their soil analysed and advised by the university crop scientists without charges for the next two years.
The scanners provide on-the-spot soil analyses and fertiliser recommendations enabling farmers to know what their farms are lacking and what to add to boost its fertility for a better harvest.
Addressing farmers at Mwanga village in Chuka/Igambang’ombe constituency during the launch of the two-year scanning exercise, Chuka University Vice-Chancellor Prof Erastus Njoka said with the help of the gadgets and farming training, a bumper harvest is expected in the region for improvement of food security.
He said the main reason why there has been a growing crop failure even in areas that receive enough rainfall is that minerals in the soil are not balanced.
“We have launched this exercise that will run for two years and during the period our farmers will not be expected to pay any fee though on average a soil test costs Sh1500,” Prof Njoka said.
Prof Njoka said the scanner is able to analyse the content of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, water and even organic matter in soils in less than five minutes and send the message to the farmer’s phone.
The don asked farmers to embrace the new technologies in their farming to enable the region to boost productivity.
The scanner is fitted with an infrared sensor and a meter and utilises a blue tooth connection through which the scanned information is transferred via a phone App to Global Soil Database which consists of thousands of soil analyses.
A scanner costs on average Sh400, 000 and one is required to pay an annual license of Sh225,000.
Prof Njoka called on the government to provide more farmers with water for irrigation to mitigate climate change that has adversely affected agricultural output in almost every part of the country.
He noted that the climatic changes brought about mostly by human activities have also led to the drying of rivers.
“It’s the high time government ensures farmers have enough water to irrigate their farms because natural rainfall is no longer reliable,” he said.
He noted that to boost modern farming method knowledge in the region, the university had partnered with the Israeli government to establish an Sh23 million irrigation project on its 500-acre farm at Kairini in Igambang’ombe Sub County that will also act as regional demonstration farms.
The don added that the farm will also be used for agricultural-related research by both students and private researchers all aimed at boosting agricultural produce in the country and across East Africa. The first farmers to benefit from the free service lauded Prof Njoka and the entire management of Chuka University for the corporate social responsibility that will in few years kick out hunger in the region.
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