In East Africa, many farmers face a significant challenge the lack of accurate information on the nutrient composition of soil and feed to make informed decisions when formulating diets for cattle or making soil interventions to improve soil health and fertility. Without these critical data, they rely on intuition, general information from the internet and blanket advice from farm advisors, often leading to mismatches between nutrients supplied and required by the crop for cattle. This practice, of using blanket recommendations, results in inefficiencies, and economic losses and contributes to environmentally unsustainable farming systems.
For dairy farmers in East Africa, AgroCares has introduced a game-changing solution. On-the-spot, affordable soil testing using their handheld scanner powered by Near InfraRed (NIR) spectroscopy has the potential to transform farming practices. This innovative technology provides farmers, through a service provider, with real-time soil nutrients and soil quality data and feed analysis (compound feeds and single raw materials) right at their fingertips.
How to use the handheld scanner
The process is simple and efficient:
- Collect a soil, compound feed or feed ingredient sample.
- Scan: Take the indicated number of scans (usually 3-5) of the sample.
- Upload: Transfer the data via Bluetooth to a smartphone.
- Analysis: The application sends the data via the internet* to AgroCares' database.
- Act: Receive within a few minutes a detailed report and practical recommendations on your smartphone**
*If not connected to the internet while scanning the measurements are stored until the smartphone is connected to the internet after which they will be analysed and reported.
**Which parameters and recommendations will be reported depends on the license. AgroCares offers different licenses, both for soil and feed.
The scanner's power lies in its ability to instantly convert spectral images into actionable nutrient information through a smartphone application. The data can be interpreted for various applications, from monitoring nutrient quality to providing precise recommendations for specific crops. The real-time nature of this technology eliminates delays associated with traditional testing methods.
One notable collaboration in this sphere is between AgroCares and NEADAP. The partnership focuses on the development of the software to use the same handheld scanner to scan tropical forages to determine their nutritive value. For this purpose, 264 samples of tropical grasses and legumes were collected in Kenya by NEADAP partner ProDairy EA and 100 samples in Uganda by the TIDE team. The fresh samples were scanned in the field, dried, and processed before Agrocares analysed the samples to collect wet-chemistry reference data. Once operational, employing NIRS technology for feed analyses will enhance the accuracy of diet formulation in combination with the price of feeds and cost of production. This technology promises to improve dairy farming practices and showcases the broad applications of AgroCares' technology beyond soil testing (e.g. feed, leaf, manure).
Innovation is the driving force behind progress in agriculture. AgroCares' handheld scanner exemplifies how technology, data, and collaboration can revolutionize an industry. By empowering farmers with real-time information and practical recommendations, this solution has the potential to improve yields, enhance sustainability, and shape the future of farming in East Africa and beyond.
To learn more about the Handheld scanner
Please contact Jos Creemers at firstname.lastname@example.org
Managing Consultant, ProDairy E.A. Ltd