Our Research QuantiSoil: Commercialization of an on-site soil analysis system for smallholding farmers


Can a sensor be developed to detect soil nutrient needs to cut down on deficiencies and cut down on fertilizer costs?

Research Strategy

  • Develop and scale-up a sensor that can detect soil nutrient needs
  • Conduct field trials for QuantiSoil and obtain soil health information

Project description

J-WAFS Solutions Program

This J-WAFS Solutions grant is supporting an effort to close yield gaps in smallholder farming systems through the development of an affordable sensor to indicate nutrient levels—and deficiencies—in soils. Soil nutrient deficiency is one of the primary drivers of yield gaps. Fertilizers can help to reduce these gaps, but can be prohibitively expensive for some farmers in the Global South and can, if misapplied, have a negative environmental impact. The use of sensors that accurately detect soil nutrient needs can help. When soil sensors provide accurate information to farmers, they can use fertilizer more efficiently and reduce unnecessary applications, saving money and reducing the environmental impact of runoff. This grant is supporting a research team to develop, scale-up, and conduct field trials for QuantiSoil, a soil sensor aimed at providing smallholder farmers with an accessible, affordable way to measure soil nutrients. This on-site soil analysis system uses printed ion-selective electrodes, combined with an electrochemical reader, to obtain actionable soil health information.


  • Invented and demonstrated an affordable on-site soil nutrient analysis system, enabling the accurate measurement of nitrate, phosphate, potassium, and pH
  • Improved the electrochemical reader with a new circuit design to reduce error from approximately 4% to under 0.1%
  • Conducted extensive stakeholder interviews and design workshops with farmers in India in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand, and Uttarakhand
  • Developed a framework with the Maharshtra Department of Agriculture to produce a soil sample library of 250 samples from 5 villages with diverse soil types, and to benchmark the new soil analysis system against existing soil testing labs and field testing on representative farms

Additional Details

Impact Areas

  • Food

Research Themes

  • Sensors & Monitoring
  • Technology & Commercialization
  • Soil Fertility & Crop Productivity
  • Equity & Access

Year Funded

  • 2019

Grant Type

  • Solutions Grant


  • Completed