Our mission here at SoliCamb is to provide a low cost sensing platform to provide data on soil nutrients and water retention. With access to soil health data we aim to empower communities with the tools and knowledge to improve agricultural land management and to engage more citizen scientists.
How much water can soil absorb and how quickly does this occur? Gardeners tend to keep a watchful eye on these parameters. Water retention characteristics are a key factor for the growth of vegetation! This is especially important in areas where conservation efforts are aiming to reintroduce local flora or crops. In the laboratory, the capability of soil to absorb water is usually determined by measuring a pressure potential using a tensiometer. We are developing a field sensor implementing a cost-effective, simplified approach to produce an estimate of the water retention capacity of soil.
Soil Organic Content
Soil organic content (SOC) is an essential part of soil systems, which consist of plant and animal residues. These include cells and tissues of soil organisms, and substances synthesized by soil organisms. There is a significant correlation between SOC and soil fertility. Residues of plants and animals will be decomposed by microorganism. This process provides essential nutrients for plants. Therefore, it is of great importance to understand SOC when looking to improve soil health.
Soils provide plants with the nutrients needed for their growth. If they cannot access enough nutrients, plants will stop growing, discolour, or even die! Therefore, it is important to regularly check nutrient concentrations and fertilise accordingly to ensure crops have everything they need to grow. For thousands of years, farmers fertilised their land based on practice and experience. Today, advanced techniques are available to monitor soil and optimise production. With the low-cost and portable technologies we are developing, we aim to provide simple measurements of nutrients in soil to scientifically guide the fertilising of plants in developing countries.
Public engagement is fundamental for increasing awareness, education and empowerment within the local community. Citizen participation is also fundamental for generating large data sets and furthering scientific knowledge- without you, this would not be possible! We frequently run events and workshops aimed to engage a range of community groups of all ages- please check our homepage for further details or get in touch via our contacts page!