The fundamental role of soils in providing healthy and nutritious food is often overlooked.
However, one-third of global soils are currently facing moderate to severe degradation caused by soil erosion, nutrient depletion, salinity, sealing and contamination. Nutrient impoverished soils contribute to systemic food and nutritional security issues.
What we do
CIAT uses cost-effective diagnostic techniques to determine soil characteristics, measure threats to soil health, and identify the drivers of soil fertility loss.
CIAT scientists thus assess the potential for enhancing and sustaining the productivity of specific farming systems through more efficient use of inputs and natural resources. Working with a new initiative of the German government called “One World No Hunger,” for example, CIAT is conducting research on soil rehabilitation in Africa and Asia. The results help identify improved management practices for specific conditions, with the aim of curbing soil degradation.
Over the last decade, CIAT has given particular attention to developing and promoting integrated soil fertility management. In recent years, our scientists have focused on developing tools that help farmers achieve a better fit between soil management technologies and the specific land and economic conditions in which these options can be adopted.
How we do it
To help sustain soil fertility and health for future generations, CIAT researchers use biophysical models and indicators of soil-based ecosystem services (e.g., disease and pest suppression), drawing on results from long-term experiments to determine the impacts of farm and landscape management. Researchers then analyze scenarios to help identify best options as well as the locations where these are likely to prove economically viable and socially acceptable, while also reducing agriculture’s impact on ecosystems.
→ Our tools
The soon-to-be open access online Latin-American Soil Information System (SISLAC) makes soil profile data and soil maps at 1:1M scale available for 19 countries in Latin America. SISLAC is a regional initiative promoted and funded by the Global Soil Partnership (FAO) and implemented in alliance with CIAT, EMBRAPA and 20 national institutions.
CIAT has 4 specialized laboratories, with well-equipped technological facilities and highly trained staff which enables reliable analysis results to allow accurate diagnoses and lead to specific actions for a sustainable use of soils.
soils | CIAT Blog Science to Cultivate Change
A move to improve pasture management and cut down...
on July 12, 2018 at 6:57 pm
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), from the UK […]
How can we measure the health of soil simply and cheaply?
on March 16, 2018 at 4:36 pm
CIAT, in collaboration with Rothamsted Research, are looking for mechanisms to […]
Soil carbon sequestration – when aspirations and reality...
on December 5, 2017 at 3:43 pm
This piece celebrates December 5, World Soils Day, and was first posted on […]
Not so dirt-cheap: how soils could save the day at climate...
on November 8, 2017 at 6:55 am
The scientific community does already have large amounts of data about what […]
IPCC taps CIAT scientists as lead authors for...
on September 5, 2017 at 8:53 pm
Dr. Louis Verchot and Dr. Ngonidzashe Chirinda, both of CIAT’s research […]
New study shows micro-nutrients can boost African crop...
on August 29, 2017 at 6:32 pm
A new study shows that adding tiny, ‘micro’ amounts of certain […]