Ministry of Agriculture’s Soil Labs to be Refurbished


Some $30 million will be spent this year to refurbish two soil labs at the Bodles Research Station, St. Catherine, and the Rural Physical Planning Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, which deal with soil disease testing and soil nutrients profiling, respectively.
Making his contribution to the 2009/10 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives Tuesday (July 7), Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, noted that the Ministry has been working to put infrastructure in place to address the issues of soil quality and soil-borne diseases.
He said that, over the past year, the Ministry has embarked on a comprehensive soil profile of its agricultural lands, involving the Rural Physical Planning Division, in order to determine the nutrient levels and soil types for the lands.
The Minister noted that many farmers are applying fertiliser and nutrients to the soil without understanding the soil’s composition, and attributed this to a lack of knowledge, experience and training. He contended, however, that they could not be blamed, as a comprehensive soil profile has not been done in Jamaica in 25 years.
“We are doing the soil profile, so that we can tell them (farmers) exactly how they need to treat with the soil, in order to get the best results, depending on the product that they are pursuing,” he added.
Dr. Tufton said that a new soil manual is now available, and will be introduced to all Rural Agricultural Development Agency (RADA) extension officers, who will now be required to do soil profiling as a part of their job.
Additionally, manuals on farm irrigation and water efficiency, as well as soil fertility and crop nutrient, have also been completed. The soil fertility and crop nutrient manual will be used to guide extension officers to give technical support.
“This is a technical soil guide for the parish of St. Elizabeth, which profiles the soils in that parish. We are working with the Rural Physical Planning (Division) to do the same in every single parish, in order to provide our farmers with the best possible advice, in terms of how they use their soil,” Dr. Tufton said.

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