FED Report: Soil Testing

Activities of the Soil Specialist during this trip included: 1) training the staff of a private soil testing laboratory, 2) working with Professor Korvah to assist the University of Liberia in providing electricity and water to the university soil science laboratory and 3) meeting with the leadership of Booker Washington Institute (BWI) and Nimba County Community College (NCCC) to plan out how to use rancid soy flour as a soil amendment. The Soil Specialist trained two technicians at Boimah Engineering Inc. (BEI) on how to test soils using the LaMotte AST-5 soil test kit. This was part of the enterprise development aspect of FED to assist local businesses in the agriculture sector. A small, illustrated booklet was prepared of standard operating procedures for soil testing and used to train the technicians. The training lasted two days and the Soil Specialist directly oversaw the initial two days of testing FED demonstration site soil samples. BEI is looking to expand their market to other NGOs, the Ministry of Agriculture and medium to large-scale plantation farmers. The FED extension agents who submitted the soil samples were gathered to review how to convert the results into fertilizer recommendations. Professor Korvah, from the University of Liberia, drafted a document to propose how FED can work with the university to bring electricity and water to the laboratory. This document clearly states the responsibilities of both parties and was drafted into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for approval by FED and the University of Liberia. Recommendations for the use of soy flour in combination with phosphate and potassium fertilizers were given to BWI and NCCC for twelve different crops. Along with general use, experimental and demonstration plots were planned using soy flour on both campuses. Experimental design using computer generated randomized plot distribution was also explained to representatives at both institutions. This was the third and final trip of the Soil Specialist. The groundwork established in the first two trips enabled the start-up of the first private soil testing lab in Liberia during this last trip. Not only will FED projects benefit from these available soil testing services, but Liberia’s agriculture sector as a whole will be able to manage soil resources in an informed way and thereby increase food security.

Further Reading