FG to introduce soil test kits to farmers

PHOTO: www.worldbank.org

PHOTO: www.worldbank.org

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is to introduce soil test kits to farmers nationwide as part of efforts to boost food production, an official has said.

Prof Victor Chude, the Director, Farm Inputs Support Services in the ministry, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.

Chude said that the technology, known as `Soil Doctor’, would enable farmers to conduct instant test on the soil, to determine its strengths and weaknesses.

He noted that soil testing was critical to farming as it guide farmers on the best fertilisers to apply in various soil types.

He noted that the current system of blanket application of fertiliser results in waste of scarce fertilisers.

“This is because the soil is not well prepared to take the nutrients for root interception within its short lifespan of arable cropping.

“Soil Doctor analyses the fertility of the soil by sending a message to the cloud, and the result comes immediately, telling you the fertiliser to be used for a particular soil.

“This technology is an improvement on the previous soil test method where field samples are taken to the laboratory for analysis and results gotten within a couple of weeks.

“The kits will be introduced to farmers across the country through the Department of Climate Change and Agricultural Land Management Services.

“Currently, 65 extension agents are being trained on how to use this new technology and they will in turn train the farmers.’’

Chude, who is the President, Soil Science Society of Nigeria, also stressed the need for improved teaching of soil testing and other soil management skills to small farmers.

He said that ‎soil testing was very important because it enables farmers to adopt new soil, crop and fertiliser recommendations for a particular field.

“Soil testing simply means the analysis of a soil sample to determine its nutrient content, composition and other characteristics such as acidity level.

“Testing a field and using the recommendations that come with it help plants receive adequate amount of nutrients needed for growth and improved productivity.’’

He noted that awareness creation on soil testing among farmers would revolutionise agriculture in the country.

According to him, a state-to-state soil testing programme has been conducted under the Food and Agriculture Organisation and National Programme for Food Security programme.

“With the availability of Geographic Information System, modern techniques can be used to go beyond soil fertility map to evaluate soil capacity and develop calibration curves for crops in each state.

“Unfortunately, the current system of blanket fertiliser use results in a waste of scarce fertiliser because the soil is not well prepared to take the nutrients for root interception within its short lifespan of arable cropping.”

Chude, however, identified challenges to soil sampling such as lack of facilities and poor transportation infrastructure.



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