Indorama Eleme Fertiliser and Chemicals Limited, one of the largest fertiliser blending plants in Africa, says it is conducting free soil testing for farmers to identify the nutrient status of soil.

Mr Sanni Olusiji, Indorama’s Sales Supervisor (North-Central), said this on Wednesday, while speaking with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the 10th National Agriculture Show Tudun-Wada in Nasarawa State.

Olusiji, who is in-charge of Benue, Niger, Nasarawa, Kaduna states and the FCT, said that the move was to educate farmers across the country on sound agronomic practices so as to boost crop yields.

“We are not just interested in selling fertiliser, we also want to raise the knowledge of farmers to know when, and how to apply fertiliser and the quantity required for a particular crop,’’ he said.

He said that soil tests were necessary before planting because some crops consumed more nutrients than others.

Olusiji, who noted that rice was a high feeder of urea fertiliser, remarked that plantain, banana and tomatoes were high feeders of NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) fertiliser.

“We discovered that some farmers, who have been farming for years, do not know the rudiments of farming.

“There is something called good agricultural practices. A lot of farmers don’t even know the size of their farmland and the quality of fertiliser to apply, whether urea or NPK.

“Some don’t even know that the soil needs to be replenished overtime because whenever you cultivate, the plant depletes the soil of its nutrients, which need to be replenished.

“We want to reach out to farmers one-on-one,’’ he said.

Olusiji advised farmers to always apply NPK fertiliser first during the first to 10 days of planting, especially for cereals, while applying urea fertiliser in split doses.

“Urea is highly mobile; we recommend that the urea be applied in split doses.

“If I am to apply four bags, I will share the four bags into three and apply three times because the nutrients are highly mobile and if you apply all at once, so much of the nutrients will be lost.’’

Olusiji said that the company currently produced 135 trailer loads of granular urea, equivalent to 4,000 metric tonnes of urea fertiliser per day.

Mr Festus Akinpelu, Indorama’s Field Agronomist in-charge of Nasarawa State, told NAN that the company had trained no fewer than 352 farmers in good agronomic practices in the state.

Akinpelu said that the company would also train 200 farmers each from the 11 local government areas of the state by 2018.

“We will train them on site selection for each crop, getting good seeds, soil preparation, planting distance and density as well as fertiliser application up to the time of harvest.

“We are planning to have dry and wet season training. Dry season training will come up between January and March and the wet season one will be from April to June in 2018,’’ he said.

Indorama Eleme Fertiliser and Chemicals Limited, which is the largest single-line fertiliser plant in the world, is located in Port Harcourt, Rivers.