Planting is not just putting your seeds or seedlings into the ground. It goes beyond seeing the seed sprout. It all starts from identifying the farm you want to plant in, the type of crop you will invest in and most of all the fertility of the soil. Agriculture is the backbone of our economy and as we work towards a continent that can feed itself, we ought to look at factors hindering our goal achievement. Talk of climate change, poor infrastructure, lack of funds, name it all. It’s all in our papers, magazines, blogs and google too has a lot to offer. Soil fertility? yes, the least thought of factor.

Caption 1: A farmer observing soil

Many farmers do not have knowledge of the soils in which they plant in. To them soil is soil. A fertile soil contains the major nutrients a plant requires: Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium just to mention but a few. The only way to find out the fertility of a soil is through soil testing. But, what is soil testing? This is the analysis of a soil sample to determine the nutrient content, the composition and other characteristics. Soil testing is the key to successful farming and should be done at least annually because the soil fertility keeps changing. Lack of soil knowledge is the reason behind the failure of a certain type of crop, yet a different crop does well in the same soil. Every crop has its specific soil in which it grows well. Most plants will grow well in neutral soil, but some prefer acidic or alkaline conditions. Conducting a soil test will help in determining which plants suit your farm. Furthermore, the results guide the farmer in choosing the appropriate fertilizer.

Caption 2:Germinated seed

There are various ways in which you can have your soil tested. A new technology Invented by Ujuzi Kilimo has made it even easier and reliable for farmers to test their soil in just 5 minutes. The Ujuzi Kilimo kit developed by Brian Bosire is a sensor-based soil testing system with a chord that is inserted into the ground. The chord picks qualities such as temperature, the nutrient content and the soil PH.PH is how alkaline or how acidic the soil is. Going back to the secondary education some might have come across a litmus paper especially in chemistry classes. Well guess what? A litmus paper can be used to test the PH of the soil. Taking both the red and blue litmus papers, insert into a container containing a mixture of the soil to be tested with water. The red litmus paper turns blue in the case where the soil is alkaline while the blue turns red where the soil is acidic.

Caption 3: Soil testing kit

With this information, a farmer can get expert advice on what crop will do well in his soil just to avoid a trial and error situation. If you want to be a successful farmer, then you have no option but to GET IT RIGHT FROM THE START.

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