July 17, 2024


All agribusiness in one place

Five reasons why you should test your soil today:

2 min read

 Understand the content of your soil using a soil test:

The first and foremost benefit of a soil test is the ability to understand what is in your soil. My favorite metaphor is to look at your fields like a bank account, and a soil test as the statement. You can’t just keep pulling out nutrients without putting a sufficient amount back or eventually you are going to run into problems. What’s more, without an actual measure now and again, estimating crop removal could lead to some wrecks — just like we under estimate our spending each month, wet, dry or ideal conditions can impact removal or losses, skewing those estimates. A soil test, at least now and again, will take out that guess work.

>Understand your soil macro and micronutrients

Once you have a handle on nutrient levels, it’s important to apply fertilizer based on targeted yields. This starts with the macronutrients (Nitrogen, Pottasium, Phosphorous, Sulphur), of course, but don’t forget to look at your micronutrients and monitor their levels as well. Depending on a field’s history or crop rotation, one or more micronutrients can get depleted, like sulpher, manganese or copper.

>Organic matter

Organic Matter is another very important component to look at on a soil test, as this is an important source of nutrients and can help things like soil water holding and nutrient holding capacity. It also releases nutrients back into the available form every year through mineralization. You can have an additional 7 lb per percent organic matter of nitrogen released every year available to your crop (Note: 7 lb is a general rule, actual mineralization is going to vary based on conditions).

>Understand how your soil pH

The soil pH number is a way of telling if your soil is more or less acidic. This is important for a number of reasons, a big one being you getting the inside scoop on whether your nutrients could become less available to the plant. For example, in a higher pH soil, say one that is 7.9, phosphorous is going to become much less available to crops roots than a soil that is 6.8 pH, for example.

The Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) is a fancy way of determining if you have a heavy or clay soil vs. a light or sandy soil. This is important for a number of reasons, but one key reason is to help determine safe seed-placed fertilizer amounts. A heavier soil can have more fertilizer safely put with the seed than a lighter one.

>A worthy investment eventually

At the end of the day, a soil test that has been taken and properly analyzed might be one of the best investments you make all year. Do you have an under-performing field? Your answer could just be a soil test away.




11 thoughts on “Five reasons why you should test your soil today:

  1. We very much interested to test our farm soil and wanted to know more of it how you can assist us and would be very graft full if you can email the process and the budget or brochure thanks for the support you are giving the farmers

  2. Try telling all that to a peasant farmer whose objective is getting food on the table at the shortest time possible and we’ll see how faster you can help light another candle

  3. There is subsistence farming and there is agribusiness, those practicing agribusiness understand the importance of soil testing, Mr. Kapienga, unless we move our masses from subsistence farming to agribusiness, then we will always be begging for food even after the hard labour

  4. That’s a valid comment but I question it’s applicability in the Kenyan context.

    Please enlighten me more on how we can apply and enforce this in Kenya so that I can share your optimism.


  5. The first step to enlightening the people is through educating and giving them platforms to share their knowledge as this one. Since i published this article, i have received numerous questions about soil testing and analysis from interested farmers, others have registered for our site visits like http://agritours.co.ke/wp/next-site-visit/ , this shows that our farmers can learn using both analogue and digital platforms and practically implement what they have learnt. This in turn grows capacity. The majority who live from hand to mouth only need exposure so that they can learn new farming methods which are affordable but with high returns. This clearly shows that exposure to new farming technologies, information and government support via extension officers if well made available to the Kenyan farmer can raise their standards of living significantly.

  6. Very wrong approach Mr. Wainaina. Your statement above is much centered on the “I” aspect………… Trust me we have been there and that approach never succeeds. Ask all the seasoned practicing agricultural engineers (myself included) before we get to the controversial specialization fields (names withheld).

    Anyway, this goes without saying that, you got a potential and with the right team/approach/partnership you could be headed somewhere very nice……. That’s my opinion, pardon the unintended negativity, and I guess me and you will remain aggressive, determined and willing to sacrifice to make a change BUT very frustrated by “status quo” phenomenon unless we think in terms of “we”!!!! 0724847150. Joel Mutiso a.k.a Kapienga Agritech Solutions

  7. I do appreciate your input on the article Mr. Joel, about “controversial specialization” i will reserve my comment for a different fora since i won’t let ego get into an important discourse.
    I appreciate the fact that you encourage team/approach/partnerships, i feel with agritours as a contributor i am in the right team, i would actually invite you to be a contributor on the same forum. we need to all learn t o clean our entrances each to see change in status quo and so i am ready to sacrifice in the right teams and partnerships to sweep my entrance in the hope that future generations may find a better status quo.

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