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Take guess-work out of agribusiness by conducting soil test

Why is it important to conduct soil test ?

Soil test is a valuable tool for your farm as it determines the inputs required for efficient and economic production of fruits and vegetables. A proper soil test will help ensure the application of enough fertilizer to meet the requirements of the crop while taking advantage of the nutrients already present in the soil. It will also allow you to determine lime requirements and can be used to diagnose problem areas. It is very important that your sampling technique is correct as the results are only as good as the sample you take. Soil testing is also a requirement for farms that must complete a nutrient management plan.

Getting a soil test is a great way to measure its health and fertility. These tests are generally inexpensive, though well worth any cost when it comes to growing and maintaining healthy plants in the garden. So how often should you do a soil test and what does a soil test show? To answer these questions, it may help to learn more about the soil testing process in general.

Why Test Soil in the Garden?

Soil test Most soil nutrients are readily found in the soil provided that its pH level is within the 6 to 6.5 range. However, when the pH level rises, many nutrients (like phosphorus, iron, etc.) may become less available. When it drops, they may even reach toxic levels, which can adversely affect the plants. Getting a soil test can help take the guesswork out of fixing any of these nutrient issues. There’s no need to spend money on fertilizers that aren’t necessary. There’s no worry of over fertilizing plants either. With a soil test, you’ll have the means for creating a healthy soil environment that will lead to maximum plant growth.

What Does a Soil Test Show?

A soil test can determine the current fertility and health of your soil. By measuring both the pH level and pinpointing nutrient deficiencies, a soil test can provide the information necessary for maintaining the most optimal fertility each year. Most plants, including grasses, flowers, and vegetables, perform best in slightly acidic soil (6.0 to 6.5). Others, like azaleas, gardenias and blueberries, require a somewhat higher acidity in order to thrive. Therefore, having a soil test can make it easier to determine the current acidity so you can make the appropriate adjustments. It will also allow you to fix any deficiencies that may be present.

Related Post: Commercial Kiwifruit farming in Kenya

How Often Do You Do a Soil Test?

Soil samples can be taken at any time of the year, with fall being preferable. They are normally taken annually or simply as needed. While many companies or gardening centers offer soil testing kits, you can usually obtain a soil test at low cost through Oxfarm Organic Ltd. Avoid having the soil tested whenever the soil is wet or when it’s been recently fertilized. To take a sample for testing garden soil, use a small trowel to take thin slices of soil from various areas of the garden (about a cup’s worth each). Allow it to air dry at room temperature and then place it into a clean plastic container. Label the soil area and date for testing. Now that you know the importance of getting a soil test, you can better manage your garden plants by making the appropriate adjustments from your soil test results.

Take the guesswork out of fertilizing by testing garden soil today. Contact our offices for more details.



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Researchers raise red flag on soils in Nyeri

Dickson Kahuro in his farm in Nyeri where he grows a variety of crops. Researchers have noted that soils in the county have become too acidic to sustain quality food production. Dickson Kahuro from Oxfarm Organic was featured on Daily Nation on Saturday 19th 2017 on one of our farms in Nyeri. You can contact him on 0723662773 for soil analysis and testing.

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Soils in Nyeri County have become too acidic to sustain quality food production, researchers have noted as output from farms dwindle.

Climate change, soil infertility and emerging pests and diseases are also to blame for the low productivity seen in the last few years.

The researchers in a report by the Department of Agriculture and Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organisation, said the county’s soil pH ranges mostly from moderate to strongly acidic.

Soil pH in Tetu, Othaya and Mukurwe-ini constituencies is strongly acidic with the pH ranging from between 4.1 to 4.4 and it is moderately acidic in Mathira, where the pH stands at soil PH 5.4.

In Kieni constituency, the county’s food basket, the soil is slightly acidic to a few moderately alkaline with a pH of 7.1 to 8.1, which is not suitable for both food and industrial crops.

Agriculture is the main economic mainstay in Nyeri with maize, beans and potatoes being commonly grown for subsistence while coffee, tea and horticulture are the main cash crops.

In the report dated last month, some soils tested had a low pH of 3.6 to 4.2 for growing food crops in the case of Tetu.

Soils tested for coffee in Mathira East and Mukurwe-ini are extremely acidic with an average pH of 4, according to the report.

Soil infertility is attributed to soils that are strongly acidic, which renders soil nutrients unavailable for crop use.

The report blamed the acidity to inadequate application of manure resulting to poor soil structure, texture and water retention capacity, and inadequate inorganic fertiliser use and poor or lack of soil conservation.

Emerging pests and diseases have also taken a toll on the main cash crop, which is coffee.



The fall armyworm and maize lethal necrosis diseases are also a major threat to food security in the country.

The report projects a decline in coffee, maize, beans, wheat and potato production if corrective measures are not taken.

“The soils get acidic due to poor farming practices and aggregated use of acidifying chemical fertiliser, continuous mining without replenishment and furrowing,” said Robert Thuo, the Agriculture county executive.

Farmers have been urged to shun the use of conventional fertilisers that have been excessively used taking a toll on their output, Instead, they are asked to use organic fertilisers to boost soil health.

The report further noted there is low soil organic carbon matter content in the soils, a situation prevails across the entire county.

Low soil organic matter content results in low water-holding capacity and encourages soil erosion by water and wind.

Most of the limited nutrients in the soils are nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium which are below adequate levels across the county while potassium and magnesium are also below to acute adequate level.

“Micro nutrient zinc and copper are low in most soils across the county and boron in coffee growing zones,” read the report.

Thuo said farmers in the entire county should make use of organic manures and agricultural lime to modify acidic soils.

He also encouraged crop rotation or mixed cropping especially with nitrogen fixing crops.

Dr Patrick Gicheru, centre director Kalro in Embu said it is important for county governments to provide subsidised fertilisers depending on sub-county particulars.

“Different sub counties have different soil pH, the government should distribute fertilisers that suit particular sub-counties as opposed to uniform use,” he said.


Application of manure the way to boost soils

Well-rotten manure or compost improves the organic matter content, supplement the soil nutrients, improves soil structure, water retention capacity and soil microbial activities.

Farmers are also encouraged farmers to adopt conservation agriculture where minimum tillage is highly recommended.

Most farms have poor soils compromising nutrient uptake and water retention and this challenge can be tackled through conservation agriculture.


Source: Daily Nation