Research & Innovation

The key to developing game changing technologies

Innovations: an ongoing process at SoilCares

Continuous innovation is our core for developing game-changing technologies.

Our strength lies in data collection, analysis and the translation into field-specific predictions and recommendations. We combine innovative sensor technologies with complex analytical data processing techniques such as data mining and modelling.

The key to success of the solutions developed by SoilCares is the use of on-site and in-situ sensors, operated via smartphone apps and linked to our databases. In combination with expert software we are able to deliver precise and timely location-specific and crop-specific management advice.

Our solutions are developed by our own scientists, but we cooperate with partners from all around the world to stay informed of all the latest developments and to ensure that our products are nothing but of the highest quality.

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The SoilCares research disciplines

Soil-Plant relations

When the nutrient availability in the rooting zone of a farmer’s soil is lower than required, using results of local field experiments, research reports, literature data and a result of intensive knowledge exchange with our partners we provide an optimal fertilizer plan for soil restoration. Considering the fertiliser availability (organic), composition and price we provide farmers with the required nutrient application rate to reach the desired crop yield and information on how to maintain their soil nutrient status optimal overtime.

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Spectroscopy

Our greatest challenge at SoilCares is to make soil testing possible without the use of chemicals and still provide accurate soil compositions. To us, the most suitable technology is spectroscopy: the specific way in which light is reflected by soil as a function of the wavelength in the electromagnetic spectrum. Mid Infrared Reflectance (MIR) and Near Infrared Reflectance (NIR) Spectroscopy can provide detailed information about organic components and texture in soils. While Rontgen (or X-Ray) Fluorescence (XRF) Spectroscopy collects information about concentrations of minerals and trace elements.

Strategic sampling

Our greatest challenge at SoilCares is to make soil testing possible without the use of chemicals and still provide accurate soil compositions. To us, the most suitable technology is spectroscopy: the specific way in which light is reflected by soil as a function of the wavelength in the electromagnetic spectrum. Mid Infrared Reflectance (MIR) and Near Infrared Reflectance (NIR) Spectroscopy can provide detailed information about organic components and texture in soils. While Rontgen (or X-Ray) Fluorescence (XRF) Spectroscopy collects information about concentrations of minerals and trace elements.

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The GSL

The Golden Standard Lab is a vital part of SoilCares. It consists of several researchers, lab analysts and assistants that process all incoming samples collected from all around the world. These samples are analyzed with several analytical techniques, including ICP-MS, HPLC, XRF, FTIR and laser diffraction and the data extracted from the separate techniques is combined into one big database. This database is the reference for the samples by the SoilCares scanner and Lab-in-a-Box. Besides the routine laboratory there is also a research laboratory where our researchers continuously improve and develop new sensors and techniques, to add to our portfolio.

Machine learning

Machine Learning plays an integral role at SoilCares, providing predictions of soil's chemical properties from sensor data. Instruments in the GSL produce data, which is added to our database. From this database, we create a number of machine learning models to identify patterns in the data that correspond with the soil's chemical properties. With machine learning we can also reduce the influence of moisture in the sensor data, which further strengthens the accuracy of our predictions. This is all built using fine-tuned versions of the ADAMS and WEKA software, developed with our New Zealand partners.

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Remote sensing

SoilCares area coverage is expanding continuously, making our need for robust data collecting methods essential. Remote sensing, or more specifically, acquisition of geo-data using satellites and other sensor technologies, allows rapid monitoring of these areas. The mission of SoilCares is to provide help and advise farmers, and this is where geo-data plays a crucial role. The team handling this type of data at SoilCares, makes sure that information is processed correctly and translated into an accurate assessment of agricultural fields. SoilCares strives to provide near-real time crop and soil information and expert advice for crop quality and yield improvement. Image © WorldView/DigitalGlobe

Soil biology

Soil organisms play two crucial roles in crop production. Beneficial soil organisms build up and preserve organic matter, maintain and improve soil structure, mineralize organic material to forms available for plants, recycle essential nutrients and are key to disease suppression. At the other end, soil-borne plant pathogens suppress crop production potential. Knowledge on both beneficial and detrimental soil organisms will enable rationalized decision making in crop production ensuring full use of soils biological capita by for example choosing appropriate crop rotations. We develop soil fungal metabarcoding to monitor soil quality status.

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SoilCares research projects

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CROPMON

Crop Monitoring Service-Kenya is a three year project, funded by the G4AW facility that aims to develop and make available an affordable information service, that provides farmers in Kenya with information that helps them to make improved farm management decisions during the growing season. 

More about CROPMON
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PASIFIK

The project “Providing Analytical Services for Informed Farming In Kenya” aims to improve land potential in Kenya by introducing soil testing services developed by SoilCares. Access to farmer networks is facilitated by cooperation with Heifer and SNV.

More about PASIFIK
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BE-BASIC

SoilCares Research is participant in the EU-subsidized project, the aim is to identify and evaluate promising soil-improving cropping systems and agronomic techniques that increase profitability and sustainability across scales in Europe. Our activity is to develop and test novel soil quality indicators using fungal metabarcoding.

More about BE-BASIC
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SOIL CARE

SoilCares Research is participant in the EU-subsidized project, the aim is to identify and evaluate promising soil-improving cropping systems and agronomic techniques that increase profitability and sustainability across scales in Europe. Our activity is to develop and test novel soil quality indicators using fungal metabarcoding.

More about SOIL CARE