Fertiliser is a key input in agricultural production as it supplies essential nutrients to enhance and increase crop yield, thereby boosting agricultural productivity.
The commodity is however, expensive, and so it is important that farmers purchase the correct fertiliser for their crop and soil type, or risk losing money and time.
Newport Fersan Jamaica Limited, a leading local and Caribbean manufacturer and distributor of fertiliser, is ensuring that local farmers have access to the best quality products that are guaranteed to increase their yields. Managing Director, Dennis Valdez, tells JIS News that the company is undertaking a project to provide farmers will fertiliser that is customised to their needs.
"We know fertiliser is an expensive commodity and that is why Newport Fersan is embarking on this campaign to supply the farming community with what farmers need and require for their crops," he says.
"It is not only supplying or selling fertiliser, but we, at Newport Fersan, want to supply to a farmer, what is required. Custom build fertiliser is what we want to deliver to farmers," he states.
Through technology, Newport Fersan is able to customise any formulation from a soil result. Farmers, who want to benefit from the initiative, just simply need to provide a soil sample to Newport Fersan, which is then analysed, after which a fertiliser is designed for that particular soil or crop.
"The most important thing is for farmers to know what their crop requires and what their soil requires in terms of nutrients. There is a simple way for you to determine that, which is taking soil samples. We can assist farmers in that regard, by going to their farm and showing them how to take the soil sample or we have, from time to time, sent in our experts to give talks about soil types. This is the type of work that we do in the field every day," says Mr. Valdez.
He informs JIS News that there have been "outstanding results" since the company began applying the technology last year and is encouraging the farming community to take advantage of the opportunity.
"Believe me it works. You can save money when you get a fertiliser that only gives you what you need. You don't have to add more products; you don't have to add more elements," he points out.
Mr. Valdez tells JIS News that by undertaking the initiative, the company is trying to assist the agricultural sector to move away from the traditional way of just applying the nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash (NPK) fertilisers and providing formulations for specific needs.
He notes, for example, that if the soil has a high pH (too alkaline) "you have to apply sulphur to reduce the pH, and elemental sulphur is the fastest and the best to amend your soil. On the other hand, if you have acid soil you need to apply calcium carbonate to control and to try to maintain the soil from losing more nitrogen (that is low pH). We have all the micro elements that your crops require and your soil needs".
There is a minimum cost involved in the process as soil samples have to be sent to a laboratory for analysis. Farmers are being encouraged to form associations or groups, to access assistance free of charge.
"Because of the size of the island and the different types of soil in different locations, we try to group certain sectors so that when we go to that area, we sample the area, and we provide recommendations and even the sampling, free of cost" Mr. Valdez tells JIS News.
Newport Fersan Jamaica Limited produces in excess of $5.6 billion worth of fertiliser per year, and exports more than $400 million of the commodity.
The company is a key supporter of the local agricultural sector, donating 1,000 bags of fertilisers in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and cutting the cost of purchases by the Government to assist replanting efforts.