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 policy-makers use SQAPP?
Awareness of soil quality, soil threats and agricultural management practices (AMPs) that can be implemented to improve poor conditions is essential in order to make the right policy decisions. You may furthermore be interested in the potential of SQAPP to act as an interactive soil quality assessment tool, (i.e. its potential for self-reporting). SQAPP gives you the option to have bi-directional exchange of soil data with farmers and land users. It also provides relative quality and soil threat information, allowing you to plan priority interventions.
How can you use soil data to formulate policy?
Farmers and land users will often have data on their own soil that is at a better level of resolution than that provided by SQAPP. Entering their own data in the app will give them more tailored AMP recommendations and is indispensable in the sections on land management (such as specific crop rotations and the pesticides that have been applied) for which there are no global data sets available. This combination of user input data together with the default data SQAPP provides when local data are missing, and the AMPs recommendations could potentially be of significant assistance in future planning and policy formulation..
How can you use information on acceptability of AMPs to formulate policy?
Gathering more information about the acceptability of different AMPs to farmers and land users is another area of interest for policy makers. When they use SQAPP, farmers are asked to indicate which AMPs are: inappropriate; already applied; potentially interesting; or definitely interesting. This feedback generates new data on the acceptability of AMPs that researchers can analyse to further improve the recommendations (e.g. by removing those that are consistently evaluated as inappropriate). This information could be useful in the formulation of future policy initiatives and serve as useful quantitative feedback on the utility and desirability of certain AMPs.
How can the underlying models in SQAPP be used to identify priority areas?
The rules used in SQAPP to calculate the potential for soil quality improvement, overall soil threat level and the ranking of AMPs have also been developed in a spatial model. Policy makers may be particularly interested in such a spatial representation as it allows you to identify priority areas of poor soil quality score and high threat risks together with AMPs recommended to address these site-specific combinations.
Where can you find more information?
The »SQAPP: the soil quality app section of this iSQAPERiS website contains a wealth of information on the design, architecture and data used in SQAPP, together with details of the involvement of stakeholders in its development. The section »Agricultural management practices recommended by SQAPP contains the full list of all the AMPs from which SQAPP makes its recommendations with links to websites where more details are provided for each example.
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