January 30, 2023

What are the current status and future outlook of soil analysis in agriculture?

Status quo & future prospects of soil analysis in agriculture

Soil analysis is a well-established tool in modern agriculture and is widely used to improve crop yields and manage the use of inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. The technology used for soil analysis allows for detailed and accurate analysis of soil samples.

Currently, farmers use soil analysis to determine nutrient content, pH levels, and to identify other issues that may be impacting crop growth & long-term soil health. This information is used to make more informed decisions about what to plant when to plant, and how to manage the soil. In addition, data from soil analysis, weather, and other sources can be combined to create detailed maps of the field, allowing farmers to apply inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides more precisely and at variable rates. This can help farmers to optimize crop yields while reducing the environmental impact of agriculture. Due to the various benefits, it is likely that soil analysis will become even more advanced and widely used in farming, especially in geographic reasons where it is still underrepresented like Sout-East Asia. 

Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) - key future technology? 

Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is becoming increasingly popular in agriculture for soil analysis. This is due in part to the many advantages that NIRS offers over traditional methods, such as being non-destructive, rapid, low-cost, versatile, and portable. This makes the technology perfectly suitable for a south-east Asian context. 

NIRS is widely used in precision farming, where it is used to create detailed maps of soil properties across a field. NIRS can also be used to identify nutrient deficiencies, detect soil compaction, and monitor soil health. NIRS has the potential to advance agriculture in several ways including:

  • Precision farming: NIRS can be used to create detailed maps of soil properties across a field.
  • Nutrient management: NIRS can identify nutrient deficiencies in soil, which can help farmers apply the right amounts of fertilizer to their crops. 
  • Soil health monitoring: NIRS can be used to monitor the health of soil over time, which can help farmers to identify issues early and adjust agricultural practices accordingly. 
  • Climate change monitoring: NIRS can be used to study the impact of climate change on soil properties, which can help farmers to adapt their management practices to changing conditions.

NIRS in the context of agriculture in South-East Asia

The use of soil scanning technology, including near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), in South-East Asia, is a growing field. The region's agriculture is diverse and complex, with many smallholder farmers who are engaged in crop and livestock production, as well as a mix of traditional labor-intensive and modern farming practices. The increasing population and urbanization put pressure on land use and food security, so soil scanning technology is seen as a way to improve the productivity and sustainability of farming in the region.

In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in precision agriculture in South-East Asia. However, adopting soil scanning technology, including NIRS, in South-East Asia is still in its early stages. The cost of the equipment and lack of trained personnel are some of the main barriers to wider adoption.

NIRS offers some key advantages over other approaches for soil analysis such as cost-effectiveness, a wide range and ease of use, and portability. This is why we are working together with our partners to scale up the use of NIRS in South-East Asia. Soil analysis using NIRS not only gives practical insights into better soil management. But it also helps to conserve our soil in the long term and thus secures the very foundation of what we eat. 

Integration of NIRS results into FarmAI

Together with our partner AgroCares, we are working to introduce NIRS in farming in South-East Asia. Furthermore, we integrate the results of soil analysis into FarmAI. Specifically, we started providing soil nutrition analysis in Thailand and Vietnam last year. The soil nutrition analysis with NIRS provides precise information that can help farmers and agro-teams to understand soil conditions during soil preparation. The result is available on our FarmAI dashboard for each field. Our users can adjust fertilizer based on their soil conditions. 

There are several soil analysis results available including soil texture, primary macronutrients, secondary macronutrients, micronutrients, soil chemistry, and soil water.

To learn more about our offerings for soil analysis, please visit our product page: https://www.listenfield.com/farm-ai-dashboard 

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