Mapping Soil Conditions in Africa with ODK and AfSIS

The Globally Integrated Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS at is a large-scale, research-based project that
is building on recent advances in digital soil mapping, infrared
spectroscopy, remote sensing, statistics, integrated soil fertility
management, and information and communication technologies.

Eric Couper, the ICT & Agriculture Coordinator of AfSIS writes, "We
are currently researching the agricultural input/output relationship
and existing agricultural information flows in the Kisongo
(, Musa, and Mateves wards, just west of
Arusha, Tanzania. When paired with soil data that AfSIS has previously
collected, AfSIS's data can be used by the Tanzanian Ministry of
Agriculture, other agricultural research organizations, and NGOs to
inform their work and recommendations.

The team recently trained four agricultural extension officers on the
use of ODK and began using both mobile phones and tablets to conduct
their survey. They used Xls2XForm (
to generate its survey, and they are using a custom Django-based
application for receiving and displaying their data, both developed by
Columbia University's Modi Research Group
(, an AfSIS partner.

To manage logistical challenges of their geo-spatially randomized
survey procedure, AfSIS has adopted Android apps, Locus Free
(navigation) and Distance and Area Measurement (area measurement).
AfSIS will explore how well these apps work in conjunction with ODK
survey procedures.

In the medium term, AfSIS will be developing a short and focused,
broadly-applicable, and easily-adopted package of resources (including
training materials, existing survey, back-end web support, etc.) for
other organizations with similar research questions."

AfSIS will be documenting its progress at and they have lots of photos
online at

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