Many small-scale farmers are unaware of the importance of soil health/fertility. At the same time, their soils are overused and infertile, and one of the major reasons for low production, resulting in economic hardship and malnutrition.
We have made it our mandate to raise farmers’ awareness about the importance of soil health. To address this issue we use modern technology and have bought a handheld soil scanner which has only very recently been introduced to Kenya. These scanners are a very valuable tool for soil analysis directly on farm. They enable our farmers to determine the input requirement, i.e. to identify possible lacking minerals and subsequent addition of minerals for an efficient and economically viable agricultural production, while at the same time taking advantage of the nutrients already present in the soil.
The soil scanners also serve to determine lime requirements, which is very important for our farmers as most soils in the region where SOFDI works have been found to be highly acidic, thereby reducing nutrient availability of the crops.
So far, 90 lead and other farmers have been trained in the usage of the scanners, and they themselves are training other farmers in the field to make use of this new, important technology and to spread awareness of the scanners’ availability further.
We have also introduced soil scanning at our Agricultural Centre of Excellence (ACE) in order to raise awareness of soil health among the young and to make them ambassadors of its importance in their communities.
We collaborate with SoilCare, an NGO that also provides on-site complete lab services in Western Kenya with instant result-generation for a more detailed analysis. The system has been developed by the world famous Wageningen University in Holland.