ABUJA – The Soil Science Society of Nigeria (SSSN) says improper care and maintenance of the soil can hinder its optimum support to crop and animal production.
The President of the society, Prof. Victor Chudi, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday.
Chudi said most infertile soils were as a result of abuse and mismanagement, describing soil as a living entity.
“Civilisations that have gone underground did so because they didn’t pay attention to their soil. They neglected their soils, they abused their soils so much that the soils become infertile, they could no longer support production of crops, even animals eat produce from the soil.
“Soil is a living entity; it has microorganisms in them and they hold nutrients that support, apart from anchoring plants, they also supply nutrients that nurture plants that produce fruits that we eat.
“If the nutrient in the soil is not monitored, you don’t have an idea of what it is, you will just be gambling.
“And if you think you can just apply fertiliser,
when you under fertilise the soil, you cause soil degradation, and when you under fertilse, the plants will extract everything that is there and then go look for extracts and then they deplete (the soil).
“If you don’t fertiliser at all and the nutrient is low, they will not support, if you fertilise and you over ferterlise, you will create contamination in the soil that may affect the growth of the plant.
”The soil will not support production, and when it is over fertilised, it causes contaminations in the soil that may affect the growth of a plant.’’
Chudi stressed the need to carry out diagnosis on the soil to ensure proper maintenance, stating that soil could only be very productive when regular soil analysis were carried out.
According to him, when this is done, plants will grow very well and the environment will not be polluted.
He said that a lot of farmers don’t carry out analysis on the soil before cultivation due to the cost implication involved.
“A lot of farmers see paying for the cost of analysis as an additional cost after paying for fertiliser and seeds,’’ the professor said.
Chudi said government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in collaboration with the University of Colombia had procured about 100 soil doctor kits to support farmers.
“This is the first phase, it would be expanded and we are hoping that when the new administration comes in, this is a project they will want to scale up because of the direct benefit to the farmers,’’ he said.
He said the kits contained all necessary equipment for testing the soil and making recommendations, and `real time’ at no cost to the farmer.
Chudi said fertiliser companies were keying into the project as it would enable them to understand the soil needs within their command area to formulate fertilisers that were location and crop specific.
According to him, it is economically affordable and environmentally friendly and it is done in real time, right on the spot.
He said the officer would take the sample, computerised it by feeding soil test value into the system and brought out the results instantly.
He said that the results could also be transmitted to the extension agent instantly.
Chudi said that the society had been making efforts in recent years to put soil on the policy agenda of the government.
He said the society had also sponsored a bill at the National Assembly, seeking to establish the Nigerian Institute of Soil Science that would regulate the practice of soil science.
This, he said, would also ensure the training of farmers on how to manage the soil for posterity.
He expressed confidence that the bill would be passed into law before the end of this assembly. (NAN)
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