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Monitoring soil health with field-deployable sensors and workflows suitable for lay-personsACTF summer studentship

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Project Description

Successful land management underpins soil health for sustainable agricultural production. However, significant amounts of nutrients are lost every year due to land degradation and poor soil management. To address this, routine monitoring of soil chemistry is needed. Current methods of transporting samples to a laboratory for analysis cannot achieve this, especially in low- and middle-income countries where agriculture is relied on by many for their livelihoods. To tackle this, we are currently developing simple workflows to measure soil nutrient levels on Site. Our approach represents a workflow that can be completed by the farmer. Extraction of nutrients occurs by simply mixing soil and water together in the cafetiere and then plunging to remove excess soil. Dissolved nutrients are detected using paper microfluidic devices designed to provide a rapid colourimetric readout. An image of the device is captured using a smart phone. The image is uploaded and analysed using open-source software yielding nutrient information on which a farmer can act.

During stakeholder engagement, farmers have been emphasizing, that nitrates, phosphates and pH are the three key parameters. Soil pH is also closely linked to soil nutrient availability and therefore is a key parameter in understanding soil health. Hence, we are aiming to integrate a pH sensor with our existing nutrient sensors to simultaneously determine soil nutrient content and pH on one multiplexed device. As a standalone project, this is well suited for a summer studentship.

Status Project Complete
Funder(s) Analytical Chemistry Trust Fund
Value £2,160.00
Project Dates Jul 1, 2021 - Aug 25, 2021
Partner Organisations 00 No Partners

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