QuantiSoil: Commercialization of an On-Site Soil Analysis System for Smallholding Farmers

QuantiSoil: Commercialization of an On-Site Soil Analysis System for Smallholding Farmers
John Hart, Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Chintan Vaishnav, Sloan School of Management

Period of performance: 

January 2019
Agriculture, Smallholder agriculture, soil sensors, soil science, soil, sensors, fertilizer, farming, climate change, rural

Abstract: 

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.