Wolde Mekuria/IWMI.

Getting the best out of light: AfSIS training

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)'s Land Health Decisions, Science Domain 4 (SD4) held its second Hands-on Soil Infrared Spectroscopy Training Course – “Getting the Best out of Light” on 12-16 May 2014 at headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. The course, which was conducted under the Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS), hosted over 40 participants from 11 countries across Africa, mostly drawn from national partner organizations, universities and the private sector, that are part of ICRAF’s network of soil spectroscopy laboratories.

Five participants from the AfSIS project Phase 2 countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania) also attended the introductory course in an effort to better understand the support role offered by ICRAF in soil sample analysis across the four countries.

Participants from ICRAF's Hands-on Soil Infrared Spectroscopy Training Course in Nairobi, Kenya.

This five-day course, which combined both theory and practical sessions, included; sample preparation; infrared spectrometer instrument use and  maintenance; data capture, analysis, and interpretation; and spectral applications in sustainable soil management. It was facilitated by SD4 scientists and senior technical staff of the Soil-Plant Spectral Diagnostics Laboratory.

SD4 has already established the Soil-Plant Spectroscopy Support Group on LinkedIn as a platform to exchange ideas and offer further support the participants.

The role of SD4 in building national capacity in operational land health surveillance methods and tools continues to be fully appreciated throughout Africa. These cutting edge methods are now being deployed by various national governments, in what is today referred to as capacity to build capacity.

SD4’s strategy is to develop and demonstrate new soil and plant analytical methods with a focus on measurement and monitoring of soil functional capacity for agriculture.