The Ministry of Agriculture is encouraging farmers to take advantage of the soil sample and testing services that they provide.
The Ministry provides soil sampling services to farmers, private companies and other interested individuals. Services provided by the Ministry to farmers free of charge provided it comes through the agriculture locality officers. However, charges are applicable to private companies as well as farmers who directly bring the samples to the Ministry’s Fiji Agricultural Chemistry Laboratory at the Koronivia Research Station.
“Soil testing is an easy and cost effective way to manage soil for crop or pasture production. It determines the key nutrients and pH levels, so that the farmer can make the best choice when purchasing fertilizers and other nutrients,” said Director Research, Dr. Apaitia Macanawai.
“The laboratory offers a wide range of analytical services for soils from simple tests which affect plant growth such as pH and moisture to soil fertility measurements such as carbon, nitrogen available phosphorus and potassium to more detailed testing for trace elements.”
The Ministry provides its analysis on the soil samples within three to four weeks. A report is prepared and recommendations are given on how to improve the fertility of the soil.
Dr. Macanawai stated that it is important to conduct soil sampling when first clearing a piece of land for farming and at least two to four weeks before planting or fertilizing the crop for established farms.
“The symptoms of pests, diseases and nutrient deficiency overlap and it becomes difficult to identify the main cause. However, the soil test results confirm the cause of the symptoms and make it easy for the farmers to apply the necessary remedial measures.”
Dr. Macanawai added the agriculture locality officers are trained to conduct proper soil sampling to ensure there is uniformity and true representation of the soil that is sampled.
The Fiji Agricultural Chemistry Laboratory also conducts livestock feed, water, fertilizer, compost, manure, food and plant testing.
Farmers who are interested in getting soil sampling done can contact the Ministry’s locality officers or the Fiji Agricultural Chemistry Laboratory on 3477044.