Measurements of pH and organic matter were near-identical for 95% of the samples.
SoilCares (now part of AgroCares) carried out a demonstration project in Ukraine, subsidized by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). The project was the perfect opportunity to prove the concept of Lab-in-a-Box on the Ukrainian market. As part of the project, 16 Ukrainian agricultural holdings submitted 160 soil samples that were analysed using SoilCares Lab-in-a-Box. SoilCares presented the first results of the project during the Large Farm Management Conference in Kyiv.
Using spectroscopy for soil analysis
The aim of the project was to show to mid- and large scale agricultural enterprises the advantages of soil testing using sensor technology – faster, more affordable soil testing without the use of chemicals. The project also raised awareness about the need of soil testing due to differences in soil fertility between and within agricultural fields.
Comparison between SoilCares technology and traditional methods for soil testing
Wet chemistry laboratories around the world use different methods to determine the same soil parameters. There are many reasons behind the choice of methodlike local practice, soil type, available standards, or base for local agronomical fertilization recommendations. Depending on the method, the absolute values for certain concentrations can vary. However, their interpretation and meaning remains the same. In order to provide a fair comparison between the methods used by SoilCares innovative technologies and the methods applied by the National Scientific Institute (NSI) in Kharkiv, commonly used in Ukraine, we conducted research on local methods, and referred to scientific publications.
The project results: good correlation for all compared soil parameters
The project results indicated all measured soil parameters gave comparable results, which met the expectations of the participants. Particularly interesting were pH and organic matter, where the measurements were near-identical for 95% of the samples.
The participants of the project were satisfied with the obtained results. For them this was not only a possibility to crosscheck the performance of spectral technologies but also a chance to learn more about soil variation within their fields.
Crop monitoring via satellite images
Another part of the demonstration project was monitoring crop growth in response to the soil fertility using satellite images. Bigger agricultural holdings are already applying this technique to monitor the performance of their crops, however a few smaller holdings were interested to learn more about the possibilities for crop monitoring, and the relationship to soil fertility.
SoilCares team kept in touch with participants and interviewed them to obtain feedback. During the interviews we concluded that the majority of agronomists consider using Lab-in-a-Box for soil sampling instead of local chemistry laboratory. They believe soil sampling with the Lab-in-a-Box is reliable and affordable.
Relying on the Lab-in-a-Box results, some agricultural holdings have already changed their fertilization plan for the next year; some – are planning to continue using it before the growing season in spring. One way or another, the ice melted and we managed to increase demand and awareness on the market.
In the upcoming months, NSI will publish the results of the project in the scientific journal. Moreover, while several agricultural holdings are discussing the possibility to use the Lab-in-a-Box, some are calculating the opportunity costs and are considering to purchase.