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Tuesday, 26 September 2017

The Origin Chocolate Event takes place in seven halls of the beautiful Royal Tropical Institute. You can experience, taste and learn about all...

Wednesday, 07 June 2017

The new organization will create a single agriculture sustainability standard, it will simplify the certification process and continue to improve...

Thursday, 09 June 2016

On 22-25 May 2016 the 3rd World Cocoa Conference took place in The Dominican Republic. Over 1300 participants from 64 countries attended the...

Wednesday, 08 June 2016

An International Cocoa Research Network and Conference
Meeting notes, Bavaro Dominican Republic, 26 May 2016

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Amsterdam, 29 april 2016

Vandebron laat iedereen zelf 100% duurzame energie kopen van onafhankelijke producenten, zoals boeren met een...

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The department of Food Science and Technology of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partnership with the Cocoa Processing...

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

• Pattern of volatile substances traceable to region
• Method usable in fraud...

Thursday, 07 April 2016

Strengthening position of farmers in cocoa value chain

The DFFS provides an alternative interface for interactions between farmers,...

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Join us at CMT’s 2nd Cocoa Revolution in Ho Chi Minh, 9-11 March 2016 for the honored address by Laurent Pipitone, Director of the Economics and...

Monday, 04 January 2016

Can you imagine a world without chocolate? No? But will it always be available and what are the challenges the makers face today? And did you know...

Detailed soil information for Africa now available via Wagenignen UR

Detailed soil information for Africa now available
Published on July 6, 2015
Zoom in on an African village, and see whether the soil is clayey or sandy, or how much nutrients or organic carbon it contains. This is now possible since ISRIC and partners have launched detailed freely accessible soil property maps for Africa. The maps, that can be explored in Google Earth, contain predictions of more than 20 soil properties at six standard depths at 250 meter resolution.




The new maps, commissioned by the Africa Soil Information Services project (AfSIS), are important for studies on agricultural development, environment and food security. In Africa, significant amounts of soil nutrients are lost every year due to land degradation and soil exhaustion. However, improving land management is impossible without local information on soil properties such as sand-silt-clay content, water-holding capacity, or nutrient content. Unfortunately accurate soil information has been difficult to obtain for governments or research institutes, because existing soil profiles records are scattered over many sources. The aim of AfSIS, an international project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is to improve this situation, among others by creating up-to-date digital soil property maps at high spatial resolution.

More accurate version

ISRIC had already launched a first digital soil information system of Africa in 2013. Now it has launched a more accurate version of the maps, drawing on 18,000 geo-referenced soil profile records from 41 countries from over 450 data sources, ranging from digital databases, books, reports and articles. Meanwhile, AfSIS teams had analysed newly collected topsoil samples from over 9,500 locations using a combination of soil spectroscopy and laboratory analysis. These old and new soil data records, together with a large number of remote-sensing based images of vegetation, climate and terrain relief, were used to estimate the soil properties for the non-desert parts of Africa.

One mouse click on these maps can tell you for instance that Cameroon, Ghana and West Congo have greater than normal levels of organic carbon in the topsoil. Or that the soil along the northern border of South Africa contains only low amounts of organic carbon. "These new maps are more reliable than the first ones, because we have used more soil profile records, more detailed remote sensing images and more advanced statistical methods”, says ISRIC researcher Tom Hengl. A demonstration version of the map can be seen here.


But there is much room to improve reliability. The team has used ‘only’ 28,500 soil profiles for an area of 18.3 million square kilometers, which is in fact a low sampling intensity. And most of these profiles reflect the period from 1975 to 2005, while some soil properties, such as soil organic content, have probably changed over time. The international mapping team is therefore excited about possibilities for increasing the number of soil profile data used and refining the prediction models. The team looks forward to additional involvement from experts at national soil agencies and regional offices, says Tom Hengl: "This is inherently a joint effort."

Farmer app

The digital soil property maps are one of the most important products of the AfSIS project, which is currently headed by the Columbia University Global Center in Nairobi. Other AfSIS products include up-to-date soil databases, methodology for land degradation surveillance and training of soil scientists. The ultimate goal of such information systems is to empower farmers so that they can use their smartphones to download real-time soil data, along with corresponding fertilization recommendations. A partner of AfSIS has already begun testing an app that can give answers to questions such as “How much maize can I expect in this village?” or “Which nutrients do I need to add to my soils to obtain best yields?”.

'Mapping Soil Properties of Africa at 250 m Resolution: Random Forests Significantly Improve Current Predictions', PLOS ONE.


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