Category: Blog

The simplicity of light is revolutionising the measurement of soil health

by | February 23, 2015

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has proclaimed 2015 as both the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015) and the International Year of Soils (IYS). The UN has also recognized December 5th, 2014 as World Soil Day. In celebration of these important events, the Soil-Plant Spectral Diagnostics Laboratory of the World Agroforestry […]

Are “large-scale, commercial agricultural” expansions possible in Nigeria?

by | December 12, 2013

Modeling agricultural land expansions There appears to be an on-going movement to expand “large scale, commercial agriculture (LSA)” in Africa that is partially based on a report that asks the question of whether agricultural expansions similar to those that were accomplished in the Brazilian Cerrado would be beneficial in Africa. See one coordinated response to […]

Mobile Data Tools Used in Soil Survey for the First Time

by | January 25, 2012

In December, AfSIS sent two staff members to Ethiopia to help Ethiopia’s Agriculture Transformation Agency launch a new country-wide soil research initiative. The soil collection teams used Android-based tablets for their work, marking the first time that soil research has been conducted in this way. Each team carried one tablet and used it in place […]

Reflections on Mobile Data Collection Presentation

by | January 19, 2012

Last week, Eric Couper, AfSIS’ ICT and Agriculture Coordinator, had the opportunity to discuss AfSIS’ mobile data collection work with colleagues and students affiliated with Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Chris Planicka wrote about the presentation for the New Media Task Force (NMTF) blog. He summarizes the talk and encourages members of NMTF to consider the […]

Preliminary Assessment of Miombo Woodland Biomass

by | December 12, 2011

The Miombo woodlands, which are dominant in subtropical eastern and southern Africa (Angola, Burundi, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), are being severely degraded due to intensified human pressure. Encroachment of cultivation and deforestation mainly for charcoal production (Fig. 1) are the major factors that contribute to […]

Preliminary Lab Results Show Low Phosphorus Across Sentinel Sites

by | December 5, 2011

Reference lab data from the AfSIS sentinel sites analyzed so far show an over-riding constraint of low available phosphorus ( The six kernel density plots below show the distribution of key soil fertility constraints at AfSIS sentinel sites. The vertical lines in each plot show critical limits from left to right of low and high […]

ICRAF Soil-Plant Lab Processed 8,000 AfSIS Soil Samples

by | December 5, 2011

Here at the Soil-Plant Spectral Diagnostics Laboratory at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya, we have received over 4,000 AfSIS soil samples from sentinel sites and diagnostic trials over the past six months, with a total of over 15,000 samples received since the start of the AfSIS project in 2008. These samples have […]

Experiences from ICT4Rural Development Conference- Part 2

by | November 16, 2011

November 1-3, Eric Couper, AfSIS ICT and agriculture coordinator, participated in an ICT4Rural Development conference hosted by SANGONeT in Johannesburg, South Africa. We’ve included a few notes here for those who couldn’t make it. In a previous post, we covered the SANGONeT matrix for categorizing ICT4RD tools, the conference’s common themes, and contributions by AfSIS […]

Experiences from ICT4Rural Development Conference- Part 1

by | November 15, 2011

November 1-3, Eric Couper, AfSIS’ ICT and Agriculture Coordinator, participated in an ICT4Rural Development conference hosted in Johannesburg, South Africa by SANGONeT. We’ve included some notes here for those who couldn’t make it. In a follow-up post, we will highlight some of the most exciting projects featured at ICT4RD and offer a few thoughts on […]

Reducing Transportation Time and Costs with Open Street Maps and Locus

by | November 14, 2011

N.B. This post assumes some knowledge of an Android app called Locus Free. To read more about how we used Locus Free for navigation and geospatial sampling read this post first. Imagine that your organization is working in a new area for the first time. If you are working in the United States, you can […]