A new Mid Infrared (MIR) Spectroscopy instrument will now assist the Ministry of Agriculture’s Research Division to enhance its capability to rapidly and economically analyse soil.
This follows the handing over of a new Mid Infrared (MIR) Spectroscopy instrument to the Ministry of Agriculture’s Research Division by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
Principal Research Officer Chemistry, Mr. Ami Sharma said the instrument was part of the new project titled “Soil Management in the Pacific Islands: investigation nutrient cycling and development of soils portal”, embarked by ACIAR through Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and the Ministry of Agriculture.
“Mid Infrared Spectroscopy is a rapid soil analyzer which will give instant readings to the researchers to make recommendations on fertilizer and crops to be planted on different soil types,” he said.
A week-long training was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with ACIAR for Research and Extension officers on the use of MIR spectroscopy for soil analysis where participants were introduced to soil survey and sampling methodology and how the MIR can contribute to traditional methods in the development of soil information systems for Fiji.
Mr. Sharma said training of staff is part of the new project to help strengthen the capacity of staff and the Fiji Agricultural Chemistry laboratory.
The ACIAR Manager Pacific Island Countries, Vinesh Prasad while closing the training at Koronivia Research Station, said soil knowledge is vital for any sustainable crop production system.
“Current traditional gardening systems in the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PCTs) have become intensified and resulted in the depletion of the soil nutrient capital. Comprehensive nutrient budgeting is essential for improving farm productivity and agricultural resilience on volcanic islands and sand atolls,” said Mr. Prasad.
He said the ACIAR project “Soil Management in the Pacific Islands: investigating nutrient cycling and development of soils portal” will enhance soil knowledge and provide a reliable foundation for sustainable intensification of agricultural systems by growers, extension officers, and policymakers.
He said the MIR instrument will be used to build a new spectral library for archived samples, analyze new samples and work with crop extension to target new areas and to work with the project collaborators to undertake innovative research and analysis.