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Drill Down into Africa Soils Projects

By Kimberly Peng

The Africa Soil Information Service has upgraded its website with a new layout, easier navigation and updates on project activities. A growing set of features provides information for managing soil and land in Africa.

The website includes a newly revised Data and Map Portal, which is equipped with sections on digital soil mapping, innovative field methods of soil collection, spectral diagnostics, and remote sensing. The portal also provides an interactive map tool that allows you to choose layers and areas of interest that can be downloaded for personal use. The project recently added the Africa Soils Profile Database, which includes over 12,000 geo-referenced legacy soil profile records for 37 countries. Another database — the LDSF Soil Spectral Database and reference soil property data, the result of over three years of soil sampling — will be added soon. (Check out some pictures of the AfSIS sampling team in southern Africa in the photo gallery.)

Africa Soil Infdormation Service
The Africa Soil Profiles database includes over 12,000 records, many of which were only previously available in paper form. The full database is available on the AfSIS website.

Together, these two features will provide data never before accessible: 1) A comprehensive, standardized set of soil profiles compiled from laboratory reports and field surveys, in many cases only previously available in paper form; and 2) spectral analysis and reference laboratory data for more than 5,000 new soil samples collected in more than 20 African countries by AfSIS teams. These databases provide critical input into the statistical models that, in combination with remote sensing data, are used to general continent-wide spatial predictions of soil functional properties such as pH, texture, mineralogy, organic matter, and nutrient content.

The website also includes several ways to follow ongoing activities.  The AfSIS Labs blog contains reviews and reflections on current activities, in addition to a growing supply of tool kits, data sets, and other features. By signing up for the AfSIS mailing list, subscribers will receive a quarterly newsletter detailing project highlights, news, and upcoming events. And get a video tour of some of the most important aspects of the project in our video introducing AfSIS.

The website also includes a feature on a growing aspect of AfSIS activities – partnerships with African governments to build national soil systems. Check out the first article on significant work underway in Ethiopia, where AfSIS is partnering with the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency.

Kimberly Peng is a senior research staff assistant at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network and provides support on data collection, processing, and analysis on the AfSIS and Haiti Regeneration Initiative projects.

The Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS) is a collaboration between Earth Institute and African scientists and institutions, developing detailed digital maps of soils in 42 countries of sub-Saharan Africa. The project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and AGRA.

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