Africa is facing an escalating soil fertility crisis and without immediate interventions, the continent continues to lose over 3,5 billion Euros per
year worth of nutrients. To increase productivity whilst decreasing soil fertility decline, balanced fertilization is essential. Farmer cooperatives using soil scanners to provide real-time fertilizer recommendations may be part of the solution. Rabobank Foundation funded the scanners. AgroCares and Agriterra present their findings from a soil sensor services pilot for farmer cooperatives in Kenya.
SoilCares, part of AgroCares, has developed a portable handheld soil Scanner using Near InfraRed (NIR) spectroscopy. How it works: a spectral image is sent to the application on the smartphone via Bluetooth. Subsequently, the smartphone application connects to AgroCares’ global calibration database to convert the spectral image into the required soil data. How this data is interpreted and reported depends on the selected application. There are applications for monitoring (only data presentation), liming recommendation and several fertilizer recommendation applications. The most used application is the ‘Advisor application’, which translates the soil data within 10 minutes into direct fertilizer recommendations for farmers for the selected crops. This application is used by 37 organisations in Kenya, 20% of which are farmer cooperatives, operating 97 scanners. The sensors can make about 30 soil samples per day. Read the full article with the results of the pilot: