Mr Daniel Attivor, West African Agronomist for Omya International, Switzerland, has advised farmers to neutralise the level of acidity or the potential Hydrogen (pH) level of the soil on their farms before cultivating them.
He said most of the soils in the country were acidic with a pH level of about 4.5 and observed that no amount of fertilizer applications could help boost the growth of the crops under such conditions.
He, therefore, recommended to farmers to apply Omya Calciprill on their farms, a finely ground high purity calcium carbonate, that helps to adjust and neutralise the pH level of the soil.
Mr Attivor gave the advice on Tuesday at the fifth Annual Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) Soybeans Kick-off event held in Nyankpala in the Northern Region.
The event was organised by the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) under its Feed the Future Initiative, in collaboration with the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) and supported by CAB International (CABI), and the Catholic Relief Services among others.
The event was to help showcase to farmers some of the best soyabeans varieties cultivated in some parts of Africa, and also educate them on three of SIL’s innovations; Pan-African Soybean Variety Trials, Soybean Management with Appropriate Research and Technology (SMART) Farms technology, and the Multi-crop threshers.
The event brought together experts that share common goals in advancing the production and utilization of soybeans in Sub-Saharan Africa, including researchers, farmers, development experts, private-sector partners, soybean seed companies, processors, aggregators, and input dealers.
Mr Attivor indicated that soils with pH level of 4.5 had a complete deficiency of nutrients such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus, among others and therefore had the potential to negatively affect crop yield.
“The soil is the most important part of agriculture and the neglect of the soil is a failure in advance,” he added.
As part of the event, a field tour was organized for participants to help examine about 40 improved soybean varieties obtained from some African countries and cultivated at the SARI research fields in Nyankpala and three other locations in the country.
These soybeans varieties were obtained from countries including Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, among others.
Dr Peter Goldsmith, the Director for SIL, said the event was to help show to farmers some of the best soybeans varieties grown all over Africa as well as encourage them to adopt these improved varieties.
He said farmers in the country are mostly challenged with poor yields, and indicated that the adoption of the soybeans varieties would help increase yield and incomes as well as improve food security.
Dr Goldsmith observed that the demand and importation of soybeans was high in the country, especially for most of the poultry industries and said enhancing local supply of soybeans to these industries through the improved varieties, would be much cheaper compared to the ones imported.
He said after showcasing the various varieties, at least, one of the varieties that would be most preferred by the farmers and experts would be evaluated by the CSIR-SARI to ensure the variety was registered and made available to farmers.
Dr Roger Kanton, the Manager of Research for the CSIR-SARI, said as part of plans to complement government’s efforts through the Planting for Food and Jobs programme, the support from SIL and other organizations would enable SARI double its soybeans yields from 700 Kg per hectare to about five metric tonnes per hectare.
He said the organization was supported with planters and threshers to boost the production of soybeans in the Northern Region.
Dr Kanton said through the SMART Farms initiative, farmers now appreciate the need to test and apply new products such as inoculants and herbicides on soybeans for protection and improve yields.
Dr Nicholas Denwar, a Senior Research Scientist at the CSIR-SARI, urged government to ensure the availability of subsidised farm inputs such as fertilizers, machinery and seedlings to help improve on the value chain production of the soybeans in the country.
At the end of the field tour, three soybeans varieties including the CSIR-SARI Favour soybean variety were selected by participants as preferred soybeans varieties.