The laboratory was originally part of the AfSIS project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which explored African soil health and associated geospatial information through innovative information products and services.
It is now the reference lab for new initiatives using dry spectroscopy in soil science and agricultural applications outside of Africa.
The lab uses innovative dry spectroscopic analysis of soil, plant and fertiliser materials with an economical and high throughput analysis. The aim is to provide high quality soil information and improved precision agriculture by better understanding the link between soil characteristics and crop productivity and nutrition.
Within AfSIS the lab was responsible for:
- Providing a referencing facility for the project and its related laboratories in Africa, working in close collaboration with a similar facility at the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF).
- Development of new technologies, particularly ionomics based plant analysis to determine the crop nutrient status in relation to soil characteristics.