African soils vary enormously in quality. So comprehensive testing is crucial. The results form the basis for directly relevant advice to farmers. Tests also enable input providers to offer farmers the most suitable fertilizer blends and other soil amendments. Combining targeted advice and inputs is an important step towards sustainable agricultural intensification – and therefore food security.
The Nature Conservancy and we have developed a model now being rolled out in central Kenya. Our joint aim is to link soil testing with extension, nutrient recommendations, and supply channels. We have started in an area where unsustainable agricultural practices have led to considerable erosion, loss of soil fertility, low yields, and poor water quality. Smallholders here conventionally have limited access to extension, high-quality inputs, soil diagnosis, or marketing services. They also lack water to grow off-season vegetables. Through our intervention, we aim to benefit both the environment and farmers’ incomes.