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A Creative Collaboration for Developing LandPKS Trainings

Last week, Amy Quandt (LandPKS Global Coordinator) and Michaela Buenemann (Associate Professor of Geography, New Mexico State University) traveled to Nairobi, Kenya to help develop a comprehensive one-day LandPKS training.  Amy and Michaela worked in partnership with the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), a LandPKS collaborator.  RCMRD is located in Nairobi, Kenya and works as a leading regional center for GIS and remote sensing technologies and trainings.  Lillian Ndungu at RCMRD has been a part of the LandPKS team and a major proponent of LandPKS in Kenya.  Antony Ndubi from RCMRD also joined the training development team.

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The training development team spent Monday through Wednesday (September 4th-6th) developing a comprehensive one-day LandPKS training. The training is meant to be a general overview of LandPKS, explain how to use the apps, and help users understand how to analyze and interpret the information that they receive from LandPKS. Importantly, the training also focuses on the potential uses and applications of LandPKS for rangelands, agriculture, and biodiversity conservation. The training materials include a step-by-step outline of the course for the instructor, presentations, hand-outs, activities, worksheets, and assessments. Anyone can pick up the training materials and teach this one-day training. In order to test out the training materials, on Thursday (Sept 7th) the training development team conducted a training of the trainers or ToT. For the ToT, the training development team worked with instructors at RCMRD’s training college and did a ‘dry run’ of the one-day training (see photos). The instructors enjoyed learning about the LandPKS tools and also provided feedback on the training materials.

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RCMRD plans to integrate this training into their own curriculum and courses, while the LandPKS team will also utilize from these training materials to conduct trainings with various partners and LandPKS users in the future. If you have questions or are interested in these training materials please e-mail contact@landpotential.org.

4analyzing output

5Practice training group

LandPKS in Ethiopia

Since 2015, the US Forest Service has been using the Land Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS) to collect monitoring data in Ethiopia to develop a baseline for rangeland condition, and to evaluate the efficacy of rangeland management treatments in an adaptive management approach. As part of the USAID Pastoral Resilient Improved Market Expansion (PRIME) project, US Forest Service (USFS) ecologists Tom DeMeo and Sabine Mellman-Brown have been working with CARE Ethiopia Rangeland Specialists Gudina and Beressa Edessa to track local vegetation changes over time, and to record grazing effects and soil erosion trends. USFS has been conducted monitoring work primarily in the Borana, Guji and Afar regions of Ethiopia, using both the LandPKS LandInfo and LandCover applications for electronic data collection and online cloud storage. To date this work has resulted in 149 monitoring plots.

Guest Post Authored By: Allison Holt – Forest Service

Local perceptions of land potential

How do local perceptions of land potential compare with soil types and textures measured with LandPKS?

That is what we set out to figure out in the rural village of Lyamgungwe, Tanzania. We asked the village government officials and elders to identify two locations within their village: one with a soil that is highly productive and does well growing maize, and one with a soil that is not very productive and where farmers have a hard time growing maize. The results were quite dramatic and the local perceptions were supported by LandPKS. The locally perceived productive soil was a Sandy Clay Loam until about 20cm depth where it turns into a Sandy Clay, and then a Silty Clay after 50cm. The locally perceived unproductive soil was a Clay for the first 20cm, then a Sandy Clay Loam, and a Loamy Sand after 50cm.

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LandPKS results showed that the first soil can hold a lot more water (X vs Y cm in the top 70cm). Future LandPKS interpretations would also indicate that the first soil also has a higher potential infiltration, so it should be able to capture more water before it runs off. This type of information can be used to decide which land to – and not to – cultivate, which can help with land use planning for both agriculture and conservation.

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The Importance of Village Agricultural Officers in LandPKS adoption in Tanzania

Village Agricultural Officers provide a critical service to smallholder farmers in rural Tanzania. They serve as the major source of agricultural information for farmers, and connect farmers to larger projects and organizations.

This week, the LandPKS team had the pleasure to spend a few days with the Agricultural Officer for Malagosi Village in Iringa Region, Tanzania. The Agricultural Officer is young, motivated, and cares about providing quality information to the farmers of Malagosi. After only a morning of training on how to use LandPKS, she was able to not only go through the LandInfo App on her own, but also helped train a few active youth in Malagosi on how to use LandPKS. She stated that she “could put the LandPKS results for each sub-village up on in village office, and if a farmer wants more information they can ask me to conduct LandPKS on their farm.”

The LandPKS team hopes that Village Agriculture Officers throughout Tanzania can play a role in increasing the adoption of LandPKS and thereby helping farmers make more sustainable agricultural choices based on their soils.

3Malagosi LandPKS