June 24, 2022
A mobile soil testing caravan
was launched yesterday by the Ministry of Agriculture to bring soil testing
facilities closer to the farmers’ doorstep.
The mobile soil testing caravan will be able to deliver services such as soil sampling, testing of pH, EC, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium, and also provides an instant analytical report which can then be issued to farmers advising them of their soil health status while also providing recommendations on the dosages of fertilizers needed and the necessary soil amendments required to correct soil fertility.
While launching the mobile laboratory in Bilalevu, Sigatoka yesterday, Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy said this was made to de-centralize the soil testing exercise and make it readily accessible to all farmers nationwide.
“In this agricultural equation, technology is key. Without technology, without investment in technology, we will not be able to push the production frontier, there is a limit to the extent to which we can push productivity increases via basic simple changes in the farm,” said Minister Reddy.
“Beyond that limit, we need to introduce new technologies to enhance our efforts in addressing the fundamental binding constraints in the agriculture sector, and one of the fundamental binding constraints in agriculture is soil quality and soil fertility.
“We are here to launch a very important innovation of technology that is brought right to the farmers' field, no longer will you need to travel to Sigatoka taking your soil samples with you, no longer will you need to submit your soil sample and then receive feedback that your soil sample has been lost, no longer will you have to talk to the testers, the analysts and discuss remotely the results of your soil testing,” he said.
“The soil testing will be done on your farm immediately with samples taken immediately and results given back to the farmers there and then. We now have the pleasure to launch a mobile soil testing vehicle which will be accessible to farmers any time they want,” Hon. Reddy said.
He has also reiterated to commercial and semi-commercial farmers to take advantage of the mobile testing laboratory to ensure that they planted the suitable crops on the piece of land they were farming on to maximize their production levels and yields.
“It gives you the opportunity to plan how you are going to adjust the fertility of your soil because you now know what the fertility composition of your soil is, what the nutrient composition of your soil is and that is critical for you to know in order to grow or adjust according to the results.
“Without having quality soil, you can’t grow crops with that particular yield, your productivity will be affected, your production will be affected and the quality of your produce will be affected,” said Minister Reddy.
Farmers can contact the Fiji Agricultural Chemistry Laboratory based at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Koronivia Research Station on 3477044 or dial the toll-free number 1523 to schedule an appointment and make arrangements for soil testing to be conducted on their farm.