Soil health

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

Soil Organic Carbon App

The Soil Organic Carbon App is an online tool that can help users calculate soil’s capacity for sequestering, or containing, organic carbon.

Latin American Soil Information System (SISLAC)

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.

Service Labs at CIAT

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.

Research updates

soils | CIAT Blog Science to Cultivate Change


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Latest publications

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