FAQ – More About the Project


General Info About the LandPKS App

Q. How does LandPKS work? What does it do? How does it support local systems? How is it sustainable at the local level?
A. LandPKS delivers tools and knowledge through an app with a series of data modules in order to manage land to be productive, resilient, and healthy. LandPKS currently has two modules available: LandCover and LandInfo. LandCover is used to monitor vegetation cover and LandInfo helps determine the potential of the soil. Both are available globally. LandCover is currently being used extensively by land managers in Namibia and Kenya to monitor rangeland vegetation health. SoilID and Land Capability Classification modules are being piloted in Tanzania. LandPKS is sustainable at the local level because it is free for users and open-sourced. Users only need a smartphone and the app in order to gain knowledge about their land, and to allow them to provide better information to technical experts (agricultural officers, rangeland managers, etc) who can then provide soil-specific information.

Q. How much does LandPKS cost?
A. LandPKS is free and available to the public on iTunes or the Google Play Store. Users only need a smartphone and the app in order to gain knowledge about their land and the potential productivity of their land.

Q. Are there any recommendations on sampling protocol (land)? How many holes should a farmer be digging to get a better sense of his/her soil?
A. The sampling method will depend upon the goals of the user. If a farmer has a large, topologically diverse farm, they may want to dig several holes in order to compare different areas on their farm. For example, how does the soils in the riparian areas compare to those on the hills, or in the plains? However, with the small farm size in most of the African pilot countries, one hole may be sufficient for a farmer to get a better sense of their soil.

Q. Who is the primary target audience for users? Farmers, extension agents, governments, etc.?
A. The current (through 2018) primary target audiences include those who need (a) information about land potential (based on soils, topography and climate) to make better land use and management decisions, and (b) a simple system for collecting and storing soil and vegetation data. The first group includes land use planners, extension agents, and agricultural consultants and input suppliers. The second group is using LandPKS for inventory, monitoring and evaluation (M&E), and for research including on-farm research. In 2019, we expect LandPKS to be used on small and medium-sized farms to make decisions about land use and to access soil-specific extension information. Developers of other apps can also benefit from the LandPKS API for soil identification.

Q. What can it do that other applications can’t do?
A. LandPKS is the only application that allows users to both collect and store soil and vegetation data, and also (now available on Android) to identify their soil. It is designed to be user-friendly and require minimal training to use. Graphics, tutorials, and short videos help walk a user through texturing their soil and monitor vegetation.

Q. Are there other applications like this?
A. Several other applications will provide information on soils that have been mapped in the area (e.g. SoilWeb in the US and MySoil in the UK), or are predicted to occur in the area (e.g. SoilGrids). Also there are a number of data collection apps for vegetation, but LandCover is the only one we are currently aware of that uses icon-based interface and requires no tools other than a meter or yard stick.


FAQ – Troubleshooting

For all application inquiries, please insure that you have downloaded the latest application version.

Problems with the App

Q. I can’t sign into Gmail.
A. Go to Settings>Date and Time and uncheck any automatic date/time/time zone. Select your appropriate time zone for your current location. You may manually set the date and time as appropriate. Go back to Settings>Accounts.Google (or add account if Google not present, select Google). Enter in login information, and you should be logged in to Google.

Q: I am having issues obtaining my location (GPS fix).
A1: Turn off location and turn back on again
A2: Turn off and reboot
A3: Check Settings>Location>Mode>GPS only.

Q: I can’t see any of my previously uploaded sites.
A1. Before heading to the field, open each app while under Wi-Fi in order to see all sites. While under Wi-Fi or mobile network, open the app to allow sites to load. Apps with full access to site data are now ready to work offline. If your sites do not appear with Wi-Fi, please contact us.
A2. Also with Wi-Fi or mobile network connection, log out of the app, and then try logging back in. This should pull down all your sites to the phone that are on the Data Portal.

Q. I submitted my sites, but I am missing data.
A. Depending on when you submitted your sites, there may be a delay with site submission to the database. Because LandPKS data can only be submitted while under Wi-Fi or network connectivity, your sites will not upload until you return to Wi-Fi or network connectivity. Please allow at least 30 minutes from the time you return from the field in order for your sites to successfully load. At this time, if you are still missing sites data, please send us a bug report (accessed in Settings) and contact us with your recorder email address, phone/tablet make and model, app version, and specific details about your missing sites. Further, you can check to see if your sites have uploaded to the cloud by going to My Locations and checking to see that each site has a black cloud icon with a check mark in the middle. If it does not have the cloud icon, when you have access to Wi-Fi or mobile connectivity, click the “Synchronize Now” button.


Data Portal

Q. How do I retrieve my data from the Data Portal?
A. In the Data Portal, enter your email address you used to collect data in the apps in the open field “Recorder email.” Select “LandInfo”or “LandCover” from the drop down directly below to choose from which app you would like data. Click “Export.” A .csv file should download to your computer. Depending on your browser, you may need to manually download the webpage that opens separately as a .csv file.

Q. I can’t find my data on the Data Portal or some of my data seems to be missing.
A. If you submitted your plot without internet connection, your site will not be uploaded to the portal site until your phone is connected to Wi-Fi. If your problem persists, please email contact@landpotential.org.

Q. How do I retrieve the photos I took in the application?
A. In order to view your photos you will first need to download the CSV file of your data.  First, you need to enter the recorder e-mail address, and then select LandInfo.  Next, click the Export button, which will export a CSV file of your data.  Within the CSV file there is a URL for each photo that you can use to view and access the photos. URL links are provided to each of the landscape, soil pit, and soil sample photos that are uploaded from the user. Copy/pasting these URLs in your browser web address bar will bring up each of the photos, which can then be saved to your desktop, hard drive, mobile storage, etc.

Q. Where can I find information on how results are calculated?
A. In the Data Portal export page, select either “Metadata for LandInfo” or “Metadata for LandCover” to access and download the .csv file containing all metadata for each indicator in LandInfo and LandCover. The metadata list matches with the column headings provided in the raw data outputs for your sites.



Q. What are the primary applications of LandInfo and LandCover?
A. Landinfo guides you through a site assessment and soil characterization process resulting in point-level (<10m2) indicators on plant available water holding capacity, infiltration rate, FAO length of growing period, and climate (monthly averages). Future versions will provide relative estimates for land potential (productivity and sustainability). LandCover adapts line-point intercept protocols to measure vegetation cover and structure elements for a 50m2

Q. Can I mention the LandPKS project/applications in my organisation’s presentation at a conference or meeting?
A. Yes. Please acknowledge LandPKS as an open-source project aimed at improving sustainable land management through local inputs into a cloud database system. If you require any additional info, or would like to use logos and/or informatics charts, please contact us at contact@landpotential.org.



Status of the Project: International and Within the United States

Q. What project results can you point to?
Pilot Countries

Q. What are some of the benefits for US domestic interests?
A. LandPKS is a global application that is already being used in the US for research, inventory and monitoring. In the near future, it will identify soils and match sites with Ecological Site Descriptions. It will have the capability to connect users with similar climate and soils in order to help managers share successful management strategies globally.

Q. How does LandPKS technically/structurally tie into and complement ag service/resilience planning? How do you program the two together?
A. LandPKS ties into agricultural services and resilience planning both technically and structurally. Technically, LandPKS is a tool that can help improve agricultural services by making information about soil productivity free and accessible to non-experts. Structurally, by integrating LandPKS into larger-scale planning processes, these processes become streamlined.

Q. How can LandPKS be integrated into other efforts around resilience, economic growth, etc.?
A. LandPKS can be used to increase resilience by providing information about which land is at risk of irreversible degradation and where crop failure risk due to drought is high. Economic growth can be increased by better matching land use with its sustainable potential (see the International Resource Panel report “Unlocking the Sustainable Potential of Land Resources: Evaluation Systems, Strategies and Tools.” LandPKS provides information about soil productivity, land degradation, and vegetation characteristics. For example, by providing information about land potential, a farmer may choose to plant one part of their farm with drought-tolerant crops, and leave another lower potential soil fallow for livestock grazing.

Q. How do I program LandPKS in my country? What are my options for implementation?
A. LandPKS is available globally and can be implemented by any interested users. LandPKS is open-source and available free on iTunes or the Google Play Store. Within the LandPKS app, the LandCover module is available globally for vegetation monitoring. The LandInfo module can be used for inventory. The LandPotential website includes training guides, online trainings, and one-page info sheets that can be used to integrate LandPKS into your own project or work. Additionally, please contact us at contact@landpotential.org for ideas and thoughts about future collaborations!