High soil acidity to blame for low crop yields
The Agricultural experts in Embu County have raised concern over high levels of soil acidity in the farms that has led to reduced crop yields recorded in the area over the years.
A soil test analysis conducted using 1,250 soil samples from different parts of the County established that 80 per cent of the soil is acidic.
The research was done by OCP Africa, Soil Care and the area County Government.
The County Director of Agriculture (CDA), John Ndwiga said many farmers do not know the acidity levels of the soils in their farms and therefore end up making mistakes when applying various chemicals to their crops.
Speaking during the release of the results in Gikuuri area in Runyenjes on Monday, he said some fertilizers and other chemicals that are applied in the farms end up increasing the acidity levels thereby affecting the health of the crops.
He told farmers to embrace soil testing to enable the County Government to come up with interventions so as to boost crop production in the area.
“Some fertilizer, especially Di-ammonium Phosphate (DAP) could increase acidity levels. This is why we emphasize on the need for periodic soil testing so that farmers can know the type of farm chemicals that they should use in their farms,” he said.
He added that some farmers have never tested their soils despite their farms recording poor yields compared neighbouring farms.
“Each farmer should embrace soil testing. Don’t rely on the test results of the neighbouring farms to establish the situation in your farm since soil components differ from farm to farm,” he said.
Ndwiga said plans were underway to educate farmers in the affected areas on measures they need to put in place so as to revert the fertility of their soils as a remedy to record high yields.
He said farmers will be educated on the use of lime to reduce acidity and the right way to apply manure to enrich micronutrient-deficient soil for improved productivity.
Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) Embu Station Director, Dr. Patrick Gicheru raised concern over lack of zinc and potassium nutrients in farmlands in Mt. Kenya region.
Gicheru attributed the situation to over-farming that has drained the macro-nutrients from the soils with farmers failing to replenish them as required to enhance fertility levels.
By Muoki Charles