A map depicting soil fertility every 30 metres across Africa could boost the livelihoods and human health across 54 nations, international scientists have said.
Produced by iSDA, a social enterprise founded by Rothamsted Research, World Agroforestry and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, the map charts 3.4 million square miles of potential agricultural land and has gathered data on acidity, organic content and nutrient levels from every field.
A world first, it is hoped the map will help improve harvests and target nutrients as well as advise farmers about yield forecasting, crop suitability and fertiliser application.
An estimated 1.1 million child deaths are caused each year by malnutrition with food grown in poor quality soil posing major human health challenges.
Dr Jonathan Crouch, chief executive officer of iSDA, said: “With ever growing demand for food, it is critical we find ways to increase productivity in sustainable ways that also allow millions of smallholders to improve their livelihoods.
“If we know the status of essential soil nutrients, we can maximise productivity, profitability and environmental benefits.”
Soil scientist and Rothamsted professor Steve McGrath added Africa will have access to more detailed soil information than many European countries, including the UK, and such farm-level data will be ‘a game changer for the world’s poorest farmers’.