A globally Integrated African Soil Information Service (AFSIS)

Published on 1 January 2010

Research Areas



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Start Date: 1 November 2008 | End Date: 31 October 2012


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 agricultural development and scientific advancement in Africa. This need coincides with advances in technologies that allow for accurate collection and prediction of soil properties. The project will develop a practical, timely, cost-effective, soil health surveillance service to map soil conditions, set a baseline for monitoring changes and to provide options for improved soil management. The system will facilitate identifying areas at risk of soil degradation and corresponding preventive and rehabilitative soil management interventions based on analyses of what works, and what doesn’t.

The project will also build 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, and to disseminate innovative soil management methods such as the combination of inorganic fertilizers with organic inputs that improve crop yields while enhancing the environment. Dissemination and training will make the project’s outcomes highly 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 map the world soil resources, and this project will help catalyze the global effort. This project falls under the “Develop and Apply New Technologies” of the Grant making Priori-ties for Agricultural Development.

The project has five objectives as follows. 1. Establish the Global Digital Soil Map Consortium 2. Create data management systems for the Internet-based African Soil Information Service and the Global Soil Information Service by expanding existing Cyberinfrastructure for the global effort 3. Develop digital soil maps and a establish soil health surveillance system in SSA 4. Provide evidence-based, spatially explicit soil management recommendations 5. Build capacity, serve end users, monitoring and evaluation, and management support.

Research Partners


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4 Responses to “A globally Integrated African Soil Information Service (AFSIS)”

  1. Jan Beniest says:

    Is this an ICRAF project together with CIAT (TSBF?). Both scientists are ICRAF staff.

    • Tor Vagen says:

      CIAT is the grantee and ICRAF has a sub-contract with CIAT. Tor Vagen is the PI for the soil health mapping (objective 3) component (the largest component of AfSIS), while Keith Shepherd works with both the soil health and the management recommendations (objective 4) components of the project.

  2. Jan Beniest says:

    • Was or is there any collaboration in the area of capacity strengthening between the Lead Centre and the Partner Centre(s)?
    • If so, can you briefly describe this collaboration and highlight the drivers of success or failure of such collaboration?
    • If not, would it have been beneficial to collaborate in this area and how can/could that best be achieved?

    • Samuel Gaturu says:

      The whole AfSIS project is a collaborative effort between CIAT and ICRAF. CIAT and ICRAF have been collaborating on three main areas, namely: (1)Capacity building through ICRAF’s Soil-Plant Spectral Diagnostics Laboratory that plays a critical role in training scientists and technical staff from CIAT since inception of the AfSIS project in November 2008; Digital soil mapping techniques and training of scientists and technicians on fertiliser trials and application.

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