On February 18, join the LandPKS Working Group at the Society for Range Management in Denver (12:15-1:30pm in Governors Square 17). You can also stop by LandPKS posters Monday and Tuesday evenings, or Ignite sessions on Tuesday 1:30-3:30pm (“Open Source Range”) or Wednesday 10-noon (“Shared Monitoring, Shared Stewardship”).
Over the past several months, our LandPKS Tanzania Country Coordinator Elifadhili Daniel has been working hard in partnership with the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) to get the word out about LandPKS as a tool for land-use planning and agricultural extension.
For Tanzanian land-use planners, LandPKS has become a valuable decision-making tool. LandPKS is being used by the National Land Use Planning Commission (NLUPC) and the USAID Land Tenure Assistance Project to carry out soil assessments. Since its introduction, the NLUPC has been using the LandPKS Land Capability Classification (LCC) tool to collect soil characteristics data. These data are used to assist in decision making on sustainable land use planning and management in NLUPC project areas. LandPKS has also informed village level land use plans and helped villages formalize land tenure through the Certificate of Customary Right of Occupancy.
Professionals in the agriculture sector in Tanzania have also found how LandPKS can be used as an information resource for agricultural extension. Since October 2018, Daniel has trained over 1,800 individuals including students at agricultural colleges, researchers at the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) and the Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA), nonprofit organizations, and agricultural extension officers in 22 regions across Tanzania. After trainings, agriculture professionals expressed how LandPKS can improve their ability to provide farmers with more accurate recommendations.
Christian Msipolosi-Songea, a District Agricultural and Irrigation Cooperative Officer in the Ruvuma region noted that “the most intriguing feature about this technology is its ability to provide site-specific information on climate and soil characteristics which will enable us to provide accurate advice to our farmers for decision making on choice of crop varieties, use of inputs like agrochemicals and seed types, and how to [help] cope with challenges of our changing environment’’.
Agriculture professionals also pointed out that an increasing number of families have access to smartphones which opens the possibility for extension agents to teach farmers to use LandPKS. LandPKS is available in Swahili, making it possible for farmers to use the app in their own language. Daniel’s trainings have also prepared extension agents to train other agriculture professionals and farmers to use LandPKS. Thanks to ICRAF and Daniel’s efforts for helping us realize our vision of global access to sustainable land management knowledge.
LandPKS celebrated the launch of the OpenTEAM collaboration over the past few weeks.
OpenTEAM, or Open Technology Ecosystem for Agriculture Management, is a partnership founded by the Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment, Stonyfield Organic, USDA’s LandPKS project, and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR).
OpenTEAM aims to increase the ability for farmers to easily move across tools and better
transfer and share information. LandPKS participated in the opening working group meeting held in Denver in late September. At the meeting, participating OpenTEAM members discussed strategic plans and began identifying concrete ways to increase compatibility and share information across tools.
The following week, OpenTEAM organized a ceremonial launch at the Wolfe’s Neck Center in Maine. LandPKS demoed our app alongside all of the OpenTEAM partners. LandPKS looks forward to collaborating with the OpenTEAM partners to increase access to knowledge for
sustainable land management.
In the month of August, our Ethiopia Local Coordinator Adane Buni organized a series of
trainings and pilot tests with the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Land Administration and Use Directorate.
The training series included a Training of Trainers for the Ethiopian Rural Land Administration and Use Experts. The training was hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and included both classroom presentations and field demonstrations of the app. In total, 227 agricultural officers, researchers and students were trained in using the LandPKS app.
During the pilot testing across several regions of Ethiopia, land biophysical data were collected using the LandPKS app and conventional Ethiopian Rural Land Use Planning methods to compare the approaches as inputs for local level participatory land use planning. The pilot tests showed that the LandPKS and conventional land use planning approaches produced comparable results. It was also determined that the LandPKS mobile app required less expertise and time for data analysis and report preparation. As a result, the Land Administration and Use Directorate has begun planning for the extension of the app out to its land use planning experts. Regional Experts in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR) have already begun training local level rural land use planners to use LandPKS to collect biophysical data for land use planning purposes.
This month, LandPKS welcomes Meghan Mize as our new Global Coordinator. Meghan has more than eight years of experience in international agriculture and program management. She also has a background in horticulture, agronomy, agriculture extension, value chain development, and communications.
Meghan began her career in international agriculture as a Peace Corps Volunteer in northern Senegal where she served as an agricultural extension agent working alongside smallholder farmers on field crop extension and community gardening. After Peace Corps, Meghan worked in Washington D.C. for several years managing and designing USAID and USDA programs in value chain development, cold chain development, sustainable agricultural production, and livelihoods in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Africa. Meghan’s next role was based in Niger carrying out a USAID-funded program supporting young entrepreneurs in agriculture, water, and environmental sectors. She also has experience working with horticulture production and marketing in Cambodia. She holds an MS in International Agricultural Development from UC Davis and a BA in Development Studies from UC Berkeley.
Meghan is excited about supporting the growth and development of LandPKS. She is passionate about data-driven sustainable agriculture, soil health, and community-led development. She looks forward to getting to know our partners implementing the app globally and to collaborate with our stakeholders in this phase of the LandPKS app development.
On June 9 -13th the University of Rhode Island in Narragansett, Rhode Island hosted the U.S. National Cooperative Soil Survey Conference, bringing soil and ecological specialists together to promote the collection and delivery of soil resource information. The National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) is a nationwide partnership of U.S. Federal, regional, State, and local agencies who work to investigate, classify, and disseminate information about soils.
Many attendees expressed interest in using LandPKS as part of a soil information knowledge system to help land managers identify and understand land potential. For example, the LandINFO module provides the tools for thorough identification of soil texture, rock fragment, and soil color as well as characterizing site information such as slope, land use, and soil limitations. Feedback from scientists also included an interest for LandPKS to develop in-app tools to deliver soil survey products based on user soil inputs.
[Featured Image: Soil scientists visit a productive agricultural soil subject to recent coastal erosion. Photo by Jon Andreoni.]
For more information on the soil color module and other features available, check out the details of the current version 3.2 release. 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 email@example.com with any questions, comments, or feedback.
Dr. Amy Quandt joined the LandPKS project as the Global Coordinator two years ago. At the end of May, we will have to say goodbye to Amy as she moves off to a new position. Starting in August, Amy will be joining the faculty of the Department of Geography at San Diego State University as an Assistant Professor of Environmental Geography. At San Diego State University, Amy is looking forward to continuing her work on the impacts of technology on agricultural productivity and sustainable land management.
During her time with LandPKS, Amy has played a critical role in enhancing the development of the app and worked closely with our partners implementing the app globally. Amy worked on the Land Capability Classification features, as well as the soon-to-be released LandManagement Module. Amy also worked to enhance the LandCover and LandInfo outputs delivered on the phone to users.
Internationally, during her two years with LandPKS Amy has made 7 trips to Africa, including Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Working with the World Agroforestry Center, Amy helped to hire our Ethiopia and Tanzania Country Coordinators. She has also done extensive pilot testing of the LandPKS app with farmers, land use planners, and pastoralists in Africa.
Amy is sad to leave the LandPKS team but we wish her the best in her future endeavors. You can keep up with her work on her website aquandt.weebly.com.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, comments, or feedback.
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 email@example.com with any questions, comments, or feedback.