Objectives of the tool kit, in practice:
In developing a ‘tool kit’ of methods and approaches to assess soil health, we focus particularly on projects and partners within the Collaborative Crop Research Programme (CCRP). The tool kit has been useful to projects for the following:
- Creating farmer engagement by conducting simple tests that allow farmers to visualize and add to the knowledge they already possess regarding soil properties and soil health.
- Assessing soils contexts as part of other research, e.g. distinguishing between high- and low- pH fields within a region, or high- and low- phosphorus fields on the same farm, to better understand what practices or crops are working where.
- Assessing change over time in parameters like organic matter, soil phosphorus, or soil structure, in response to land use and cropping practices.
A few examples of partners who are applying the soil tool kit:
Assessing soil health in Eastern Uganda: the soils cross-cutting project has been collaborating with the sorghum and finger millet projects based in Uganda’s National Semi-Arid Resource Research Institute (NaSSARI) to train field staff in the use of the tool kit to evaluate and promote soil health in smallholder farming communities of Eastern Uganda. Pictured: community members in Damasiko, Uganda discuss particulate organic matter in vials and compare it to what they have assessed in several example soils.
Developing a soil health data platform for organizations and farmer networks: the platform allows users in farmer organizations and soil health projects to calculate, store, and understand the meaning of soil tool kit results, with the ability to store location information of soil health results, and the option to share the information more widely if they choose to do so. The Data Platform interface and database is being developed by the Research Methods Support team at Stats4SD in Reading, UK (stats4sd.org) Pictured: soil data platform page for managing the ODK forms designed for cell phone acquisition of tool kit results.