Learn about World Soil Day & Mosaic’s Support for SoilDoc Kits in Nigeria
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Learn about World Soil Day & Mosaic’s Support for SoilDoc Kits in Nigeria

December 05, 2014   |   ShareThis

At Mosaic, we have great appreciation for soil’s role in sustaining life. We aim to help others understand how soil health impacts the quality and quantity of food, as well as human health around the world.

Despite its importance, soil is often overlooked. Improper management of soil and its fertility leads to degradation and nutrient loss. In 2002, the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) proposed World Soil Day to raise awareness of the importance of proper soil management.

Preventing soil degradation and promoting sustainable soil management

One way soil loses its fertility and is degraded is when farmers produce crops, season after season, without replacing the nutrients in the soil that were absorbed by the plants. This ‘nutrient mining’ strips the soil of the nutrients plants need to grow to their full potential. Soil quality is also affected by erosion, compaction, loss of soil structure, and soil salinity.

The Mosaic Company and The Mosaic Company Foundation make investments for the advancement of soil science, to promote balanced crop nutrition and to support agricultural producers globally. An example of this support is our grant and partnership with the Agriculture and Food Security Center (AgCenter) at The Earth Institute, Columbia University.

Partnership brings soil lab to farmers’ fields in Nigeria

The Earth Institute’s AgCenter developed the SoilDoc kit, which is being piloted in various countries in Africa; Mosaic has provided a grant to support their work in Nigeria. The SoilDoc is a portable, on-farm soil testing kit that provides tailored fertilizer and organic input recommendations for farms, following the Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) approach.

This environmentally sound, market-based approach to increasing agricultural production accelerates progress toward food security in sub-Saharan Africa that will improve the quality of life, nutrition and health for smallholder farmers and their families. The AgCenter’s SoilDoc kit program transforms how smallholder farmers manage their soils and improve agricultural productivity in rural communities.

Mosaic’s grant allows the AgCenter to continue its work in agriculture, nutrition, environmental services and agricultural education. The project’s initial focus is on Africa, with plans to expand to other parts of the world.

“This project is unique in that it brings soil testing to smallholder farmers, who lack access to agronomic training and information. Soil testing is a fertilizer best management practice that, until now, has only been widely available to farmers in developed nations,” said Kari Niedfeldt-Thomas, Executive Director of The Mosaic Company Foundation.

What does the SoilDoc kit test for and how does it work?

The SoilDoc uses state-of-the-art battery-powered instruments to measure soil health and make real-time crop nutrient recommendations. Field tests are run for pH, electrical conductivity, phosphorus, potassium, nitrate, sulfur and active carbon. Readings are entered in an Android operating system and sent to a virtual central operation that responds with specific soil nutrient recommendations in real time.

With SoilDoc and trained extension agents, it's possible for African farmers to get the crop nutrient recommendations they need, and to significantly increase their crop yields. The application of precise soil inputs will reduce costs and curtail soil nutrient losses to the environment. This will contribute toward improved food security by increasing yields with better soil fertility management and better environmental outcomes with improved soil health practices.

Watch Video – http://youtu.be/hqUYwN8-NJg

Read more about The Agriculture and Food Security Center at The Earth Institute, Columbia University and its SoilDoc kit.