Because knowledge about the condition and trend of African soils is highly fragmented and dated, there is an urgent need for accurate, up-to-date, and spatially referenced soil information to support agriculture in Africa. This coincides with developments in technologies that allow for accurate collection and prediction of soil properties.The Globally Integrated Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS) is a large-scale, research-based project to develop a practical, timely, and cost-effective soil health surveillance service to map soil conditions, set a baseline for monitoring changes, develop global standards and methodologies, and provide options for improved soil and land management in Africa.

AfSIS is building on recent advances in digital soil mapping, infrared spectroscopy, remote sensing, statistics, and integrated soil fertility management to improve the way that soils are evaluated, mapped, and monitored, while significantly reducing the costs to do so. Innovative soil management methods such as the combination of inorganic fertilizers with organic inputs that improve crop yields while enhancing the environment are being tested and documented. The system is also facilitating the identification of areas at risk of soil degradation and corresponding preventive and rehabilitative soil management interventions based on analysis of what works and what does not.

Dissemination and training is making the project’s outcomes accessible to farm communities, public and private extension services, national agricultural research and soil survey organizations, the fertilizer sector, project and local planners, national and regional policymakers, and scientists. The efforts in Africa are part of a wider, global effort to digitally mapthe world’s soil resources.