Similarly, plants require elements such as potassium and sodium ions which are key in transportation of food.
Phosphorus, manganese or iron deficient soils will have a crop that does not depend much on these minerals to do well.
A farmer would only know which fertilizers and the quantity required to boost the element through chemical laboratory analysis.
SoilCare Africa is one of the international companies offering the service locally.
MacMahon says it is recommended that the process is done after every two to three years, or whenever a farmer wants to grow something new. It is also worth taking the samples for testing whenever crops look ‘weak or sickly’.
“Using SoilCares technology, a soil test takes 2 hours. This is compared to other soil testing technologies which take up to 2 weeks,” she said.
A farmer can use random, zigzag or other approved methods to pick soil samples before taking them to the laboratories.
The company has laboratories in Meru, Uasin Gishu, Bungoma and Nairobi counties. There are three laboratories in Bungoma, which were purchased by the county government.
Soil testing will cost a Bungoma farmer Sh800, while a fees of Sh1,300 is applicable in other places.