Boost for farmers as OLX sets up soil lab

Monday January 9 2017

An expert from Soil Cares Ltd demonstrates how a mobile soil testing machine works.

An expert from SoilCares Ltd demonstrates how a mobile soil testing machine works. OLX has partnered with the Dutch-headquartered SoilCares Ltd to conduct soil tests through the mobile soil testing labs before planting to enhance farming productivity. FILE PHOTO | ISAIAH ESIPISU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JAMES KARIUKI
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OLX, an online advertising site, has started mobile soil testing in agricultural rich zones ahead of the planting season to provide the right mix of fertiliser bought through its platform.

The tests establish the suitability of different types of fertiliser for given locations, says OLX manager Peter Ndiang’ui.

Farmers have been using the fertilisers with little regard to the needs of their soils, distorting soil acidity and ultimately affecting crop production.

Mr Ndiang’ui said the right type of fertiliser will address the issues of increased soil acidity from wrong manure use that has seen production on the farms decline.

OLX has partnered with Dutch-headquartered firm SoilCares Ltd to conduct the test through a mobile soil testing lab comprising a truck equipped with equipment for analysing samples to determine the nutrient levels, deficiencies, acidity and the general health.

WAIT FOR DAYS

Previously, farmers would take samples to agricultural research centres, and wait for days to get results. But now, it can be done in just three hours.

The testing plan comes weeks after the online advertising site established farm input centres to help farmers’ access seeds and fertilisers bought through its platform.

It has opened two centres in Nakuru and Nyandarua dubbed Kilimo Smart OLX centres and expect to open more units in agro-rich zones.

This is the latest agro-based products from the firm that is seeking a share of Kenya’s largest industry in a diversification plan for company popular for connecting buyers and sellers shopping for clothing, electronics and vehicles.