• Hashtag= #soiltestkit


    The compilation of a free and simple soil testing guide for all the key agriculture soil parameters would enable more produce growers to make well informed decisions about how to make best use of the soil. Given enough crowd sourced measurements of these soil parameters, the data could usefully contribute to agricultural and scientific applications and research, and could also complement information obtained from satellite imagery.

    Growers' Nation (www.growers-nation.org) and the Pineapple Project (www.root2market.org/) began as challenges at the 2012 International Space Apps event. These projects aim to use scientific data to provide produce growers with information about what can grow best locally and when to plant and harvest. Currently available data sets of soil parameter measurements are often sparse, particularly in developing regions of the world, and soil properties can vary significantly over small regions. User input of local soil parameters to these applications could greatly improve the accuracy of the recommendations.

    The Geo-Wiki project (www.geo-wiki.org) began in 2007 as a way of crowd sourcing the validation of global land cover, a vital input to global assessment exercises and global models. Since then, several branches of Geo-Wiki have been developed including a mobile application for validation on the ground. A new soil Geo-Wiki application is planned in the future, which would be used to collect, store and visualize soil data, and would be provided as an open source database for scientific research. The results from this challenge could provide useful protocols for collecting soil information that could feed directly into a soil Geo-Wiki.

    Crowdsourcing is increasingly being used to collect data for scientific research. Examples relevant to soils include the Tea Bag Index, for collecting information on the decay rates of carbon in soils (http://www.decolab.org/tbi/concept.html), the UK Natural History Museum’s website for earthworm and soil surveys through the OPAL project led by Imperial College (http:/(http://www.opalexplorenature.org/soilsurvey), and the British Geological Survey’s mySoil mobile app (http://www.bgs.ac.uk/mysoil/) for collecting basic soil properties in the UK.  The Met Office Weather Observations Website (WOW) also crowdsources weather station data (http://wow.metoffice.gov.uk/).

    Challenge Description:

    This crowd sourcing challenge involves designing user friendly and accessible guidelines for testing key soil parameters; experimenting with practical soil testing approaches and developing a simple means for users to feedback their soil measurements using web/ phone technology

    Functional Specifications:

    (Software/App) User feedback of soil parameter information

    • Development of a service on different platforms (e.g. SMS, web, smart phones) for the user to both access the soil testing guidelines, and feedback their soil parameter measurements. The use of SMS will make it a viable option for use by some farmers in developing countries.
    • Code to feedback inputs from sensor technology solutions.

    (Design & Research) Soil testing guide development

    • Development of a soil testing guide to help produce growers easily test key soil parameters including soil depth, type, pH, temperature, nutrient content and moisture. Other potential parameters of interest could also be discussed during the challenge.
    • Additional graphics/ pictorial instructions/ colour coding where possible so that the guidelines can be best understood universally.

    (Hardware) Soil testing kit development

    • Investigate the use of everyday household objects for testing the key soil parameters.
    • Experiment with the use of sensor technology for providing cheaper alternatives to the more expensive soil testing kit used for agricultural applications.
    • Investigate hardware that can leverage and connect to an input on a smart phone, such that crowd sourced soil measurements can easily be gathered.

    (Research and Hardware) Adaption of soil tests for other applications

    • Additionally soil tests are valuable in space exploration, and simplified methods are particularly important due to the observations being gathered remotely, e.g. as with the soil samples recently returned by the Mars Curiosity rover. It would be interesting to look at how the outputs from this challenge could be adapted for use by robotics in space exploration. Conversely, lessons could be learnt from current space exploration soil testing techniques and their possible adaption for terrestrial use could be investigated.


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  • The following projects are solving this challenge:

    • tétés

      Our goal is to create an interactive web and mobile site based on the best practices and simple to implement techniques for soil testing, allowing users to easily and visually choose options such as type of soil, desired use and available tools, etc. Té Tés literally means Soil (Té) Test (Tés) in... Visit Project

    • MudPi

      The aim of the Growers' Nation project is to develop a free-to-use, scientific-based global application and related outreach resources that will help get more people involved in and enthusiastic about growing produce using available space in gardens, in their school/university/work grounds and ev... Visit Project

    • Innovation in agriculture

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    • People Of The Soil

      # Project Soil During the Space Apps Challenge 2013, at the Google Campus in London, we have developed **Project Soil**: an extremely cheap and easy to use system to collect and manage soil data. ![People of the Soil in London](http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BIY1IiyCYAI3Vgq.jpg) We kept in m... Visit Project