Soil testing made easy with scanner

Friday July 08 2016

An expert from SoilCares Ltd demonstrates how a mobile soil testing machine works. SoilCares Ltd has launched a high-end technology soil scanner, SoilCares Scanner, that will enable smallholder farmers easily carry soil tests before planting to enhance productivity. FILE PHOTO | ISAIAH ESIPISU | NATION MEDIA GROUP


An agri-tech company has launched a high-end technology that will enable smallholder farmers easily carry soil tests before planting to enhance productivity.

The SoilCares Scanner provides on-the-spot soil analyses and fertiliser recommendations. Farmers cannot only now find out minerals lacking in their soils but they can also know specific fertilisers to use in boosting soil fertility.

The new technology majorly targets potato farmers across the country.

To ensure that more smallholder farmers access the technology, SoilCares Ltd and Rabobank signed an agreement that will see the latter donate 400,000 Euros (Sh45 million) to enable the introduction of over 150 scanners to fast-track the roll out of the technology.

The agreement was signed recently in Nakuru in the presence of Dutch Minister for Agriculture.

“One scanner costs about 2,000 Euros (Sh224,000), which most farmers might not afford. We, therefore, plan to train farmer groups on how to use the soil scanners after which they can receive them at considerable rates,” said Reinder van der Meer, SoilCare Kenya managing director.



By using the scanner and the complementary training, farmers will gain knowledge about their soils and correct use of fertiliser to improve productivity.

This will lead to positive effects on farmers’ incomes and food security, Rabobank said.

The SoilCares Scanner is equipped with a small near infrared sensor and a meter. It utilises a blue tooth connection through which the scanned data is transferred via a smartphone App to Global Soil Database, consisting of thousands of soil analyses.

It is also important for smallholder farmers to use healthy seeds, however, good yields starts with the soil.

“The soil should also be healthy and fertile enough to support your crops’ growth. After a comparison is made between the data in the database and data of the scan, fertiliser recommendations (based on extensive calculations) are given on the smartphone within a minute and can be printed,” Van der Meer explained.