What is SQAPP?
Good soil quality is of fundamental importance to local and global food production and to ecosystem resilience. Agricultural soils world-wide are subject to threats and pressures including increasing demand for food and biofuels, climate change impacts, land degradation and associated productivity decline.
To manage agricultural soils well, decision-makers need science-based, easy to apply and cost-effective tools to assess soil quality and function. Reliable knowledge and data help land users assess the quality and make well-informed decisions about the use of their soils.
In response to this issue, the Horizon 2020 EU-funded project iSQAPER has created SQAPP, an innovative soil quality app for mobile devices developed, tested, evaluated and improved by farmers, agricultural service providers, scientists, and policy makers.
- Gives users free global access to soil maps and contextual soil quality information (showing how their soil scores relative to others of the same type in similar climatic conditions).
- Assesses the most probable threats to soil quality with explicit links between soil quality status and agricultural management.
- Provides targeted advice on how to improve soil quality status with different agricultural management practices.
- Has the capacity for users to interact with the databases, uploading local data to refine the soil quality analysis and recommendations.
Why should farmers and land users use SQAPP?
Firstly, SQAPP can provide a comparative soil quality assessment of all your land. This allows you to compare the soil quality of your fields with others under the same land use, in similar soil types and climate zones. Secondly, by drawing on a database of hundreds of examples of agricultural management practices (AMPs) that have been proved to increase soil quality, SQAPP recommends practices that would suit your local situation and goals.
Should you become a registered user?
We recommend that farmers and land users become registered users (registration is free) because this allows you to store information in the app about your land. If you want to experiment with new practices and reassess the soil quality at a later time, we suggest that you save field locations with a name that includes the date. By becoming a registered user your information remains available to you and can be used to track progress towards improved soil quality over time.
What are the advantages of entering your own data?
SQAPP uses global data sets of relatively low resolution. They are useful for getting a broad picture but are probably not accurate at a local scale, nor do they take specific soil management history into account. Often farmers and land users have access to their own soil data which we recommend entering into SQAPP in order to obtain more tailored AMP recommendations.
In SQAPP there are also places where user input about field management is required (such as specific crop rotations and the pesticides that have been applied). Again, defining these correctly enhances the AMP recommendations. In the case of pesticides, for many farmers this will probably be the first time that they can get an estimate of the pesticide environmental concentration in their fields.
Where can you find more information?
When you have selected AMPs that are potentially or definitely interesting, you can search for more information about them. A good starting place is the section on »Agricultural management practices recommended by SQAPP in this iSQAPERiS website where links to websites with more details are provided. This section on iSQAPERiS is also of interest in its own right, because it provides access to the full set of AMPs that can be browsed for inspiration.
Help us evaluate the AMP recommendations
We need the help of farmers and land users to evaluate SQAPP’s AMP recommendations. We suggest you take some time to go through the list and indicate which AMPs are: inappropriate; already applied; potentially interesting; or definitely interesting. These user-specified evaluations are stored and can be reviewed later. If a large number of app users evaluates AMP suggestions, researchers can analyse the data and improve the recommendations (e.g. by removing those that are consistently evaluated as inappropriate).
SQAPP was originally written in English.
We are working to provide it in these languages too:
Chinese, Estonian, French, German,
Contact us if you would like to help translating it into another language
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