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New app and data system help with best practices for soil health

A team led by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) soil scientist Jeffrey Herrick has developed an innovative cloud computing platform and suite of mobile apps. The Land-Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS) “identifies (and in the near future will deliver) knowledge relevant to specific soils to anyone with a mobile phone,” says Herrick, who is based at the ARS Range Management Research Unit in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The LandPKS mobile app, which includes the LandInfo and LandCover modules, taps cloud computing, digital and traditional soil-mapping, and GPS data to provide information on the sustainable potential of land under current and future climate conditions.

The current version of the LandInfo module allows the user to collect soil and site topographic data, while the LandCover module is used to document ground cover, vegetation height, plant density, and spatial patterns of vegetation affecting soil erosion. Domestic and international development organizations and land-management agencies are already using the app to crowd-source the local information needed to inform management decisions.

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