By Oscar Adika
In the misty rolling landscape of Kinale in Kiambu County, lies two potato farms. One belongs to Ms. Mwihaki and right next is her’s – is her cousin’s Jane potato farm.
Potato is a common crop in Kinale and Mwihaki has grown up seeing her parents farm all manner of crops including potatoes. This time it was a little bit special for her. Because she was growing her own potatoes on her own one acre farm for the first time.
It was easy for her to simply do what she has seen her parents do all these years. But Mwihaki sensed that there could be a better way of growing potatoes than what she’d already experienced growing up.
Starting With The Soil
Jane, Mwihaki’s cousin, went straight and bought some planting fertilizer as is the norm with farmers in the area. Mwihaki however did pause and wondered: What if she did a soil test first before investing any money in planting and top dressing fertilizer?
With the help of Daktari wa Udongo, Benson Karanja, Mwihaki got her soil tested first with CropNuts. And after 7 days, she got her soil analysis results together with fertilizer recommendations (what fertilizer to apply and what rates to apply) for a maximum yield of 30 tons of potatoes per hectare (=12 tons per acre)Mwihaki Sample report
Sample Soil Analysis report indicating soil with low pH, low Phosphorus, Potassium & Calcium. Complete with fertilizer recommendations on Page 2 aimed at bringing the soil to optimum soil fertility levels for a high potato target yield of 30 tons per hectare (12 tons per acre)
Instead of going for the planting fertilizer straight away, Mwihaki applied the soil recommendations in her report first. Her soil had a low pH and low Calcium – which she rectified by applying Dolomitic Lime and Gypsum.
It was only after bringing her soil to optimum fertility levels that Mwihaki went ahead and bought the planting & topdressing fertilizers, which were also defined in her soil report.
(In Mwihaki’s own words)
“The first photo is my one acre farm in Kinale, Kiambu County. The second one is my cousin’s plot which is next to mine. We bought the seeds from the same market (Soko Mjinga) and planted around the same time. All my cousin did was to use planting fertilizer which she bought from the Agrovet shop. I took my soil for analysis first and followed the soil recommendations with Daktari wa Udongo Benson Karanja’s guidance. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! Same field, the distance between the two plots is 400 metres apart! Can’t wait for the harvest. Thank you Daktari wa Udongo!” – Mwihaki Ndungu
About Daktari wa Udongo
Daktari wa Udongo is CropNuts’ soil testing and fertilizer advisory service for small scale farmers. The main objective of the the service is to deliver timely and integrated fertilizer recommendations to the smallholder farmer by SMS, which gives them the knowledge and advice to improve their crop yields.
By utilizing this service and following through with the recommendations given, small holder farmers are able to improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of their farms. To find the Daktari wa Udongo agent in your region, please click here