Noble Research Institute Hosts LandPKS Feedback Workshop

On April 15 -17th the Noble Research Institute in Ardmore, Oklahoma hosted a LandPKS feedback workshop. The main goal of the workshop was to solicit thoughts, ideas, and feedback on how to improve the LandPKS app, including the current modules and features, as well as our upcoming redesign of the LandPKS app. Attending the workshop were LandPKS staff, Noble Research Institute staff, pasture and range consultants, seed company and agricultural industry representatives, The Nature Conservancy staff, Natural Resources Conservation Service soil scientists, and ranchers.

The workshop began on the 15th with an introduction to the LandPKS app and future additions to it including a SoilID function, and LandManagment and SoilHealth modules. On the 16th the day was divided into four sessions where participants could provide feedback about different aspects of the LandPKS app including geospatial components, input modules, outputs and interpretations, privacy and data sharing, interface and navigation, and social networking. On the 17th, the workshop ended with a discussion on what should be prioritized for future LandPKS development.

Noble 2
The fantastic views at the Noble Research Institute in Ardmore

The feedback received over the three-day intensive workshop was invaluable in shaping the future of the LandPKS app; ensuring that it is both usable and useful in sustainable land management within the United States. The LandPKS team thanks everyone who gave their valuable time to join us. It is very much appreciated!

It is also important to thank the Noble Research Institute for opening their doors to us for this workshop. Lloyd Noble established the Noble Research Institute in 1945 to revitalize agriculture after the Dust Bowl and deliver solutions to great agricultural challenges. The Noble Research Institute focuses on basic, translational, and applied research that will help farmers and ranchers improve land stewardship and productivity. The institute has seven research and demonstration farms, covering 14,000 acres in southern Oklahoma.

The LandPKS app is free and available on the Google Play Store and iTunes Store. The LandPKS app was developed by the LandPKS Team for the Land-Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS) with support from USAID and USDA-ARS. Please contact us at contact@landpotential.org with any questions, comments, or feedback.

LandPKS Seminar and Demo May 1st, Fort Collins 2019!

Interested in technology-based solutions to sustainable agriculture, rangeland management and natural resource conservation? Join us on May 1st at 3:30pm to hear about the FREE LandPKS Mobile App!

 

Agenda, May 1, 2019

3:30 pm  LandPKS Seminar – CSU Campus, MSNR Rm. 345 (Michael Smith Natural Resource Building)

4:30 pm  Field Demo (outside MSNR)

5:00 pm  Social at the Ramskeller Pub (Lory Student Center, CSU–Pizza provided!)

 

The LandPKS app is free and available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. The LandPKS app was developed by the LandPKS Team for the Land-Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS) with support largely from USAID and USDA-ARS. Please contact us at contact@landpotential.org with any questions, comments, or feedback.

 

LandPKS App Now Available in French, Spanish, and Swahili

The LandPKS app is now available in four different languages: French, Swahili, Spanish, and English!  The LandPKS team recently released LandPKS version 3.2.1 which contains all four languages. Please do visit the Google Play Store or Apple App Store to download the latest version.

 

How to change your language in the LandPKS app:

  1. Once logged in, go to the ‘More’ icon on the green bar on the bottom right of the screen.
  2. Go to Application Settings.
  3. On the Language dropdown, select your preferred language. 

 

Having the LandPKS app translated into different languages helps improve access to the app for non-English speakers globally.  We do not want language to be a barrier to use and adoption. Including these three additional languages will significantly help our users in Europe (French and Spanish), Africa (French and Swahili), and North and South America (Spanish).

The LandPKS app is free and available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. The LandPKS app was developed by the LandPKS Team for the Land-Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS) with support largely from USAID and USDA-ARS. Please contact us at contact@landpotential.org with any questions, comments, or feedback.

Introducing Maximilian Contreras: Program Specialist

Maximilian Contreras is a recent Graduate from New Mexico State University. He has a Bachelor’s of individualized study in music and theatre and intends to pursue a masters of archival records administration. His background work experience includes customer service and media library management as well as record keeping and administrative assistance. His family owns farmland in Chihuahua, Mexico with crops of both wheat and alfalfa. The Contreras family also tends to a small apple and pear orchard. Max is excited to assist in developing the LandPKS app in hopes that it will not only improve crop yield for his family in the future, but also many other farms around the globe.

Please join us in welcoming him to our LandPKS family!

LandPKS Field Day at the Jornada Experimental Range

On March 7th, the LandPKS Team hosted a LandPKS Field Day at the Jornada Experimental Range, just outside Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA. The Jornada Experimental Range has served as a field research laboratory since 1912 for long term agricultural and ecological research. The first goal of the field day was to have the LandPKS team go through the entire LandPKS app – including both current and future modules and features. In addition, the second goal was to obtain feedback from specialists and technical experts outside the core LandPKS team. Joining the team for the field day was ecologist Laura Burkett, biological science technician Kirsten Romig, post-doctoral researcher Erica Christensen, and Science Education Specialist with the Asombro Institute of Science Education Ryan Pemberton.

LandPKS soil and range experts Shawn Salley and George Peacock led the group through the existing LandInfo and LandCover modules within the LandPKS app. These two modules are designed to walk the user through collecting soils and vegetation data. We also used and collected feedback on the soon-to-be released SoilID feature that matches the user’s soil inputs with soils mapped in the same area. George Peacock also walked the group through the SoilHealth module that is in development and next on our list to be programmed into the app.

Right: Shawn Salley measuring our soil pit to collect soil samples at different depths. Left: Laura Burkett using LandPKS.

Due to the afternoon wind and dust storm which is typical for this time of year in Las Cruces, after a picnic lunch we finished the day at the Jornada Experimental Range headquarters where Amy Quandt led the group through the soon-to-be released LandManagement module. This module aims to provide farmers with an easy record keeping tool to manage their farm inputs and outputs. We finished the day with a feedback session to discuss possible future revisions to the LandPKS app.

The LandPKS app is free and available on the Google Play Store and iTunes Store. The LandPKS app was developed by the LandPKS Team for the Land Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS) with support from USAID and USDA-ARS. Please contact us at contact@landpotential.org with any questions, comments, or feedback.

Amy Quandt walking the group through collecting vegetation information with the LandCover module.

The LandPKS YouTube Channel

The LandPKS mobile phone app (landpotential.org) helps users make more sustainable land management decisions by assisting them to collect geo-located data about their soils, vegetation, and site characteristics; and returning back to users useful results and information about their site. The LandPKS app is a global app that can be used in any location around the world. As visible on the LandPKS Data Portal (landpotential.org/data-portal/), there have been LandPKS sites completed on 6 continents!

In order to provide more information about LandPKS to our stakeholders and users globally, we have started a YouTube channel called LandPKS.  We will continue to add videos about how to use the app, user testimonials, and LandPKS presentations.  Please subscribe to help stay updated!

The LandPKS Team is Focusing on Trainings in 2019

 

 

With the recent hiring of LandPKS Country Coordinators in both Tanzania and Ethiopia, thLandPKS team is putting much of our efforts into conducting more trainings, improving our training materials, and translating both the training materials and the app into other languages.  We have training materials available on our website in Swahili, Amharic, and Oromo (https://landpotential.org/resources/training/), and we have recently released a new version of the LandPKS app that is translated into Spanish, with French and Swahili to be released in the next month. 

Mr. Elifadhili Daniel, our Tanzania LandPKS Country Coordinator, has developed an ambitious plan to conduct trainings all over the country.  If you are in Tanzania and interested in learning more about LandPKS, please contact him at E.Daniel@cgiar.org.

In Ethiopia, Mr. Adane Buni, our Ethiopia LandPKS Country Coordinator, is working on developing partnerships and collaborations with government agencies working on issues of land use planning.  These partnerships will include training throughout Ethiopia as well.  If you are in Ethiopia and interested in learning more about LandPKS, please contact him at A.Buni@cgiar.org

LandPKS Version 3.2 Released with SoilColor and Land Capability Classification Features

Knowledge for sustainable land management – in your hands!

What’s New

  • Land Capability Classification class determination
  • Soil Color function to determine color
  • Ability to use the soil color or texture guide without creating a site
  • Updated Soil Limitations tab with new inputs
  • Spanish language (change language in Settings)

The LandPKS app helps users make more sustainable land management decisions by allowing them to collect geo-located data about their soils and vegetation using several modules. It then provides users with information about their site. It also provides free cloud storage and sharing, which means that you can access your data from any computer from our Data Portal at https://landpotential.org/data-portal/ . The LandPKS app does not require a data connection to be used, and users can upload their data when they have connectivity. The LandPKS app currently includes two modules: LandInfo and LandCover.

The LandInfo module makes site and soil characterization fast and easy! The app walks the user through how to hand texture their soil, and document other important site characteristics. Version 3.2 includes the new Soil Color function, which allows the user to determine the color of their soil sample by taking a photo of the sample next to a reference card.

This version also includes the new Land Capability Classification (LCC) results in the Report page. LCC classifies the land into 8 different classes based on sustainable production potential based on Slope, Soil Texture, and Soil Limitations. This can be used for land use planning and land management.

The LandCover module is a simple tool for rapidly collecting and recording vegetation cover using a 1 meter or yard stick. The module walks a user through collecting vegetation data using a point-intercept method at 5 points at 20 locations in each plot. Cover results are automatically calculated on the phone and delivered to users as simple graphs, including cover trends over time.

Learn more about the LandPKS app on the LandPotential.org website. Training resources, including guides and online trainings, are also available on the website.

The LandPKS app was developed by USDA-ARS in collaboration with CU Boulder and NMSU with support from USAID, BLM and NRCS.

LandPKS Mobile App Causes Unprecedented Excitement Among Agricultural Practitioners In Morogoro

Various agricultural practitioners including district extension officers, agricultural college trainers, researchers and agricultural seed producers in Morogoro region have expressed their excitement as they were introduced to LandPKS. This was demonstrated after being trained to use the LandPKS mobile app and its application in identifying potential of the land and how it can be used as a decision-making tool for land use planning and management. The training conducted by LandPKS country coordination officer for Tanzania Mr. Elifadhili Daniel from 10th-20th Dec. 2018 in Morogoro whereby agricultural professionals from Chalinze District, Morogoro District Council, Mvomero District Council, WOPATA, agricultural researchers from Tanzania Agricultural Research Institutes – Cholima Dakawa and Ilonga centres, Ministry of Agriculture Training Institute trainers and field extension officers from Agricultural Seed Agency( ASA) were reached. A total of 111 professionals were trained at this phase and were able to use LandPKS application.

The training was organized as part of LandPKS developers’ efforts to roll out the technology to agricultural practitioners in Tanzania and capacitate them to; characterize local site conditions (soil, topography, climate) using LandPKS mobile app, analyze and interpret outputs in specific contexts and to use LandPKS for collecting information that will facilitate decision making for sustainable land use planning.

To facilitate quick understanding, the training was divided into two phases, the theoretical part whereby the participants were oriented to the LandPKS application and assisted to download and troubleshoot. The second part encompassed a field practical training where the participants were involved in soil texturing and data collection using the LandPKS app. This was the most exciting part of the training where they appreciated site-specific instant results by LandPKS.

Applicability of LandPKS

Agricultural professionals reached out during the training described how LandPKS would be a great help in their day to day activities. ASA seed experts were pleased with the advent and introduction of this technology by acknowledging that it just came at the right time. ”We have a larger field exceeding 3000 acres. LandPKS tool will help characterize our soils at various parts of our field and guide us in planning and we will start this exercise tomorrow, however we may need more training and practice to perfect it’’. Similar comments were made by one of the principal TARI researchers at Ilonga Station during the wrap up session, who commended efforts made by LandPKS developers to bring easy to use technology for soil characterization and ultimately land use planning, emphasizing on more training and guidance from the country coordination officer.

On the other hand, LandPKS also gave tremendous zest to District agricultural extension officers reached, who expressed their eagerness to learn more about the app and train their colleagues who did not attend the training. One could notice the interest on their faces as they were actively involved in digging and working the soils and follow the guide to determine the textural class.

Both indoor and outdoor training sessions were very interactive where a number of questions pertaining the app, interpretation of the results and the use of LandPKS website resources were asked and answered and comments given which were subsequently communicated to LandPKS developers.

Rollout LandPKS for Sustainable Land Use and Management in Ethiopia

The LandPKS (Land Potential Knowledge System) project is recently launched in Ethiopia to complement ongoing efforts in land administration and sustainable land management. Currently in Ethiopia an emphasis is given on issuing land certificates to secure land tenure rights of rural communities. Although, securing land rights encourages farmers to invest conservation-wise on their land, land demarcation and certification merely based on plot sizes alone could not be sufficient to achieve sustainable land management. Cognizant of this fact, the Ethiopian government is yet to enforce land use policy. The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Rural Land Administration and Land Use Proclamation No, 456/2005, states:

“A guiding land use Masterplan, which takes into account Soil type, Landform,weather condition, plant cover and socio economic conditions and which is based on a water shed approach, shall be developed…………”

“WHEREAS, it has become necessary to establish an information database. that enables to identify the size, direction and use rights of the different types of landholdings in the country……”

Accordingly, land use policy needs to be backed up with scientific knowledge about the potential of a land. The lack of knowledge about land’s potential is one of the reasons for the underutilisation or overexploitation of lands under occupancy. Thus, making the relevant knowledge readily available is half the solution of the prevailing land misuse problem. Not only that, knowledge of the land’s potential should also be the preceding and the core step while setting up land use policies. LandPKS serves this purpose by availing analysed information about the potential of land following a worldwide accepted standard land evaluation procedures, based on a data gathered by users and retrieved from the cloud by the LandPKS mobile app. The LandPKS app replaces the exhausting, paper based, a qualified expert demanding conventional land evaluation process. The detailed biophysical information about the land supplied by LandPKS will complement the preliminary textual and imagery data which are displayed on the land tenure certificates already being issued to rural land holders in Ethiopia.


A village in Gurage Zone with different existing land uses – Orthophoto taken in October 2018.

Moreover, the Ethiopian government is keen on establishing land information system database, which potentially fosters information accessibility to users. Likewise, maintaining transparency is one of the core working principles in Ethiopian offices, where land administration is no exception. Nevertheless, the paper-based land data archiving is a bottleneck to transparency where the end users require the goodwill of authorities or experts to get data access. This in turn could be pinpointed as one of the factors for land related corruptions widespread in Ethiopia. Maintaining data transparency requires use of the right tools and methodologies to collect and store data. In this aspect, the LandPKS app is an ideal tool as it will make data openly accessible to all registered users through its data portal.

The issue of sustainable land management has been a priority agenda in Ethiopia. This boils down to the fact that soil erosion is identified as the main environmental degradation causing further socioeconomical instabilities in the country. Soil erosion is aggravated by the recurring drought, over-cultivation, deforestation and overgrazing practices in Ethiopia. To figure out the erodibility risk of a specific area it will be mandatory to: monitor the land cover, understand the soil inherent characteristics, topography and the climate condition. The LandPKS mobile application is developed with a functionality to analyze and correlate the above-mentioned parameters upon which feasible soil conservation decisions could be made. Moreover, from the biophysical soil LandPKS outputs, fertility related variables could be extrapolated which also contributes to the land management decisions.

The LandPKS project is engaged in disseminating the LandPKS mobile app through capacity building training for all kinds of interested stakeholders including government officers, farmers, extension workers, researchers, and students. Often shortage of office computers in Ethiopia is the hurdle in the compilation and analysis of data collected from the field. The LandPKS app will address this issue, as it will enable officers to collect, store, analyse and interpret data all at once using affordable mobile smart phones. This could also assist their daily task of preparing field reports, as LandPKS app gives the option to generate PDF reports, and leaves them with less excuse of not having computers. On top of that, unlike computers requiring broadband or WiFi internet connection to upload data, which currently is a luxury to have in Ethiopian offices, LandPKS data could be uploaded using regular phone internet connection. Not only that, in remote rural Ethiopian villages where there is limited phone signal, LandPKS app users could temporarily save collected data on their portable mobile phone and they should do synchronization to upload data on the web portal whenever and wherever they get internet connection.

Finally, taking into account the indispensable role LandPKS app could play in the land use planning and sustainable land management, LandPKS Ethiopia project pursue opportunities to work in partnership with various implementing stakeholders and mainstream use of LandPKS app into ongoing land management practices. Any organization interested in collaborating with the LandPKS project, and/or receiving a training on the use of the LandPKS app should contact the Ethiopian Country Coordination Officer, Mr. Adane Buni, at A.Buni@cgiar.org.