Banking on Tech for Better Soils
In Kenya, less than eight percent of land today is used for crop and feed production, and less than 20 percent of land is suitable for cultivation due to degraded and poor soils. But there is great potential for small-scale farmers in Kenya to understand, manage and improve their soils to reach cultivation potential and maximize their farm productivity and sustainability.
To help Kenyan farmers understand their soil profiles and to provide customized information to improve it, Rabobank Foundation launched a partnership in June 2016 with the SoilCares Foundation to extend state-of-the-art technology tools, information and training to Kenyan agricultural service providers. SoilCares is a spin-off of one of the oldest agricultural laboratories in the Netherlands, and serves today to bring its rich agricultural laboratory resources literally to the hands of all farmers worldwide.
The SoilCares Scanner is the first device in the world providing affordable, real-time, on-the-spot soil analyses and fertilizer recommendations. Using near infrared, the scanner measures soil parameters and sends real-time lime and fertilizer recommendations, customized for the farmer, to a smartphone via the SoilCares app. Kenyan smallholder farmers can use the information to increase their yield by determining which fertilizers are needed and at what quantities. With funding from the Rabobank Foundation, the scanner will be piloted in Kenya and then advanced to neighboring countries in the coming years.