Pedometrics is a subject area within soil science that deals with the derivation, management, analysis and evaluation soil information. It encompasses the use of statistical (often geostatistics and data mining) and mathematical methods to analyse soil data in various forms, and from various sources. Often, legacy maps and new measurements are combined for inference on soil properties at a point in space and time or across a larger area or over longer period. Related fields are digital soil mapping and proximal soil sensing. The website of the Pedometrics commission of the International Union of Soil Sciences is found at: http://pedometrics.org/
Pedometrics in practice: developing decision support for sustainable intensification in small-holder farming systems in East Africa
For a number of years our department has had a fruitful collaboration with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Kenya. It started with one project and has expanded with additional activities within the subject areas of proximal soil sensing, digital soil mapping and pedometrics.
The aim of the first project was to develop decision support for sustainable intensification in smallholder farming systems in East Africa. That means to provide individual farmers and extension officers with soil information of relevance for their management decisions, such as risk maps for low pH or micronutrient deficiencies.
The same type of data is also needed at regional and national level; fertilizer companies need to know which blend to sell in each county and policy makers need soil data to support decisions e.g. on subsidies on agricultural lime products. In recent years, the mitigation of climate change and the improvement of soil fertility by sequestering carbon in the soil has become a hot research topic. Authorities and organizations at multiple levels asks for data on how much carbon can be put back into the soil, where the potential sequestration is the largest and by which agricultural practices are most effective for this specific purpose.
In short, there is an increasing need for spatial data on soil properties at multiple scales and together with CIAT we work on the pedometric issues related to soil sampling, soil analysis, mapping, evaluation of data products, how to transfer data across spatial scales and how to communicate data to the end users.
The International Center for Tropical Agriculture, CIAT, carry out research and development on crops and agricultural practices. A lot of effort is put on making results useful, e.g. by providing decision support and tools, for decisions made at all levels, by individual farmers and extension officers to regional, national and global policymakers. A main goal is to improve nutrition in the tropical regions of the Earth. CIAT is one of fifteen research organizations in the CGIAR consortium that receives Swedish funding via SIDA. The described projects forms part of the CGIAR Research Program Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE).