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Around the world, soils face pressure from practices that result in land degradation. New smartphone app, SQAPP, offers regional soil quality analysis

Healthy soils are crucial for productive agriculture and a thriving environment. Around the world, soils face pressure from practices that result in land degradation.

Good soil quality is of fundamental importance to both 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, changing diets, land degradation and associated productivity decline, all made worse by climate change. Reliable knowledge and data help land users assess their soils and make well-informed decisions about its use. When information on alternative land use practices is easily available, it supports farmers in improving their land management.

On December 5, 2020 the Soil Quality Mobile App (SQAPP) officially launches, bringing soil quality analysis to your smartphone SQAPP provides insight about threats to regional soil health and recommends agricultural management practices for improvement.

SQAPP is available for free public download in Google and Apple app stores.

You can use it to find information about threats to a region’s soil quality such as:

  • erosion,
  • nutrient depletion,
  • salinization and contamination among others.

SQAPP returns available soil quality information for any location in the world, picked by the user from a world map.

Rather than scoring soil quality in absolute terms, the app scores the soil quality relative to the average soil quality within areas with similar soil and climatic conditions (so-called pedo-climatic zones).

  • For example, 80% means that only 20% of the area of the selected pedo-climatic zone is considered to have a higher indicator value than the point location being assessed.

Depending on the selected region, SQAPP will give an overview of possible soil threats. These are scored based on general, scientifically-derived threshold values. A summary shows the overall threat level and indicates which soil parameters and soil threats should be addressed to reach a better soil quality. Recommendations are provided on how this can be achieved.

This app innovates and experiments with creating a user-friendly interface that is intuitive for land managers. Scale is an important consideration when using this app. The analysis provided is based on global and regional data and should not be interpreted as exact data for a specific point on the map, such as your garden or farm field. Within the app, you may upload local data to refine the soil quality analysis and resulting recommendations. European and Chinese geography contains the richest data layers within SQAPP. (Source)

What is SQAPP? - the soil quality assessment app developed by the iSQAPER research project - gives: freely available global access to soil maps and data at any location, for any user; assesses the most probable threats to soil quality with explicit links between:

  • soil quality status and agricultural management;
  • provides target advice on how to improve soil quality status; and
  • has the capacity for users to interact with the databases, uploading local data to refine the soil quality analysis and recommendations.

About:  SQAPP was developed in the framework of the project iSQAPER (interactive soil quality assessment information system), jointly funded by EU Horizon-2020, Government of China and Government of Switzerland. The collaborators include Wageningen University & Research, the European Commission’s Joint Research Center, Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture in Switzerland and 20 other institutions. Learn more on the project’s website.

Read more from The iSQAPER briefing paper series which places the results emerging from the scientific work programme within wider policy and decision-making contexts 

Did you know:

iSQAPERiS is structured in 7 main themes as shown in the flower diagram below. The central product SQAPP: the soil quality assessment app was developed through a research programme investigating soil quality indicators, pedo-climatic zones and farming systems and sustainable land management practices.

By upscaling the results one can examine the consequences of widespread implementation of land management practices. The authors provide recommendations for integrating and promoting soil quality and sustainable land management into policy.

In addition to the detailed research results a number of key messages are provided for a range of stakeholders including farmers, advisors, policy makers and researchers in succinct formats.     

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