#SproutLife: Katharine and Ken

News out of Africa

With the arrival of the SoilCares Scanner in Kenya last week, the SoilCares Africa team has been busy putting them through their paces to see what kind of results we get.

Field trials were held in Nanyuki, in the Laikipia region of Kenya (right next to the stunning Mt. Kenya which we could see from nearly every scan we took) with the whole office getting involved. Teams were made up of a sampler (in this case, Ken took up the rather more strenious role) and a monitor (Katharine, clipboard in hand!) to make sure the work was carried out accurately and on time. We set off in the morning full of excitement for how the Scanner would perform. I was happy to be with Ken, because despite is smaller stature I had been assured of his strenth in the field!

Kenneth Sagara

Teams were given extension officers to call when they had arrived in their prospective location (in our case we met in Nyeri town) and we quickly met with our government extension officer. Some other groups took hours to find their extension officer but we were lucky. Kamau had been working in the area for several years and had a good knowledge of the land and farmers who farmed it. It was up to him to make sure we were able to take the 15 samples we needed to hit our daily target. Kamau was a great extension officer – he knew this county well and was well liked by the farmers we visited. It’s great to see farmers being well looked after by their extension officer.

Kamau and Ken collecting samples

The mission for our time in the field was to make sure the Scanner had the chance to work how it is intended; in the field with the farmer.

By lunch time we had done 25 samples. We were getting pretty hungry but there was no time to stop and eat because we had so many farmers to visit! I managed to find a small shop selling chocolate and stocked up. We were also given more fresh produce than we could carry from the kind farmers we were visiting! My absolute favourite, tree tomatoes, were given to us by the kilo so I remained happy despite sore feet and the sudden downpour of rain.

Me (Katharine) and my new buddy the Scanner!

By the end of the day we reached 51 samples – one of the highest of all the groups! We were pleased but also very tired after such a long couple day in the field. I did not expect the farmer life to be so tiring and pay all my respects to my new heros.

In terms of short-term goals, we really saw how the Scanner worked and what a great tool it will be in the future for farmers across the continent. We cannot wait to see real people using the Scanner for the betterment of farmers across Kenya.

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