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Earth Institute Research Projects

Going the Last Mile: Equipping and Empowering Extension Workers to Make Innovative Soil Recommendations in Africa

Lead PI: Pedro Sanchez

Unit Affiliation: Agriculture & Food Security Center

July 2012 - November 2015
Inactive
Africa ; Sub-Saharan Africa ; Tanzania
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: A three-pronged approach to empowering African extension workers: 1) an innovative tool -- Lab-in-a-Box -- to diagnose soil constraints in the field, transmit the information electronically, and receive quality recommendations back from specialists in near real-time; 2) diagnostic and nutrient response trials needed to validate the tool and link it with Digital Soils Central of the country, and 3) massive training of agricultural extension workers. The work will be conducted together with the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture.

OUTCOMES: We are developing a new, very practical “lab in the box” to enable extension workers to make on the spot diagnoses of soil constraints, allowing targeted recommendations to advise farmers in real time. Developing this system will begin to overcome one of the major constraints currently faced in Africa that impedes the practical use of soils information. Crop yields will increase, decreasing hunger, improving nutrition, and improving soil health.

RESEARCH TEAM:

Generose Nziguheba

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY COLLABORATORS:

Sustainable Engineering Lab

KEYWORDS

agriculture food soil ecology lab-in-a-box nutrition

THEMES

Stewardship of the planet