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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Soil doctors teach remedies to recharge lands, boost farm production

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Second of Three Parts

In the training course, soil doctors learned to conduct field assessments and make informed decisions to treat various soil problems. Educational soil test kits—tools to assess soil condition—distributed by the program, enabled the trainees to tackle soil fertility issues and optimize soil health.

One of these certified soil doctors is Davlatova Farishta. According to her, the main difficulties faced by farmers in her district are delayed access to fertilizers and their high cost.

“The Global Soil Doctors Program educates farmers about other ways to nourish plants without relying solely on fertilizers,” she explains.

With the education and tools from the program, Davlatova is now helping other farmers to visually diagnose their soils and learn to implement crop rotation with leguminous species and incorporate plant residues to enhance soil organic matter instead of just using synthetic fertilizers.

Lao PDR

In an effort to tackle soil infertility—a main concern in the Savannakhet province of Lao PDR—FAO provided training on enhancing soil organic matter, understanding soil pH and recognizing the presence of volcanic ash, crucial factors that affect nutrient supply in plants. Having this knowledge means farmers can correctly diagnose and treat their land’s soil problems.

Sisavath Keochaleunsouk, a soil doctor, is utilizing a crop rotation system on his farm to produce crops year-round. He shares, “We sow watermelon during the dry season, and we cultivate rice during the rainy season. Now we understand that we need to rotate our crops because our soils lose their productivity over time.” With the knowledge and skills from the training course, he is learning to better understand how to enhance soil nutrient availability. In addition to watermelon, he will now include other crops and add organic fertilizers.

With a hundred soil doctors already trained and sharing their knowledge, the program in Lao PDR is expected to reach 1 000 farmers in 50 more villages. (To be continued)

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