Our Commitment to Scientific Research and Innovation

Our work is based on a deep-rooted dedication to scientific excellence and innovative partnerships

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Our science, research and partnership agenda:

In brief

  • iSDA works with farmers, governments, distributors and other agricultural stakeholders, building partnerships and national pilots
  • We enjoy a high level of scientific expertise on our board of directors and core team
  • Our founders include three distinguished research institutes that pioneered geospatial and spectral analysis techniques for agriculture
  • iSDA is partnered today with PES and ICRAF in developing a low-cost soil nutrient analysis technology
  • iSDA and EnvirometriX have created a satellite soil-mapping system – iSDAsoil – offering unprecedented 30m spatial resolution covering the entire African continent (click here for launch updates)

Revolutionizing agriculture in the Global South

iSDA’s mission is to revolutionize agriculture in the Global South by providing smallholders with new tools and technologies that will help them increase their productivity and prosperity, while putting their operations on a long-term, sustainable business footing. To achieve these goals, we have undertaken extensive development work with farmers, governments, distributors and other agricultural stakeholders, building partnerships and national pilots that will take shape over the course of 2020.

The foundation that underpins all these activities is iSDA’s deep commitment to scientific research and the development of innovative agricultural solutions made possible by investing in science. We enjoy a high level of scientific expertise on our board of directors and core team. We also maintain close working relationships with numerous academic and research organizations specializing in the agricultural sciences.

We have undertaken
extensive development
work with farmers,
governments, distributors
and other agricultural
stakeholders

A commitment to science is rooted in our history

We were founded by three distinguished research institutes: Rothamsted Research, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). We are also indebted to the scientists and technologists at AfSIS, the Africa Soil Information Service. They have developed freely available geospatial and spectral analysis techniques that can be used to map entire continents rapidly and at relatively low cost. iSDA is building on this legacy, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the AfSIS data and software tools by bringing them together into a single open platform – dubbed iSDAsoil – where they will be developed for future services (visit the iSDAsoil pages for details).

Innovative partnerships

iSDA has struck partnerships with several organizations to conduct high-level research and develop technologies that we aim to fashion into practical tools for use by farmers and business. One current partner is UK-based PES, Plastic Electronic Sensors, which in 2018 produced a thin film technology which allows low-cost soil nutrient analysis. Together, iSDA, PES and ICRAF, have obtained a follow-on InnovateUK grant to calibrate the technology in Kenya during 2020. Once the scientific validation is complete, iSDA will start designing a go-to-market strategy.

In one of our most ambitious undertakings, iSDA has teamed up with science consultancy EnvirometriX to develop iSDAsoil, a satellite soil-mapping system that harnesses open-access remote sensing data, machine learning and geolocated soil samples, created by the AfSIS network and others, capable of generating predictions of over 20 soil variables.

We are making the iSDAsoil information system publicly available so as to encourage agribusiness, government and researchers to use more and better data in their decision-making. It will form the foundation of iSDA’s business-to-business offerings, including agronomic advisory services tailored for agribusiness and smallholders.

Our current activities

iSDA continues to build strategic partnerships in critical areas of agronomic research and technology development. The shared goal: to enhance our ability to apply steady improvements to the farming practices of millions of Africa’s smallholder farmers. We are currently focussing on three main areas:

African soils at 30m resolution: Try our new soil mapping resource

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