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Dr. Keith Shepherd

Keith Shepherd is Chief Scientist and cofounder of Innovative Solutions for Decision Agriculture (iSDA), where he is implementing AI-enabled, digital agronomic advisory tools for smallholder famers in Africa. He has over 40 years’ experience in agricultural research and development, including over 30 years with World Agroforestry (ICRAF) based in Nairobi, where he led international research programmes on sustainable land/soil management and applied decision science. He has pioneered global developments in soil-plant diagnostics using infrared and x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy and in 2021 was awarded the Foodshot prize: Innovating Soil 3 Deep Dive Groundbreaker. He co-founded the Africa Soil Information Service and co-authored the iSDASoil digital soil map of Africa. Keith has led the development of a Global Soil Spectral Library & Estimation Service and helps steer the Soil Spectroscopy for Global Good network. He is currently assisting the National Cooperative Soil Survey of the USA on deployment of soil infrared spectroscopy in their field offices. Prior to joining ICRAF, Keith has developed science-based agronomic recommendations for Southern Darfur in the Sudan; dryland cropping systems in rice-based systems at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines; Mediterranean areas at the International Centre for Research in the Dry Areas in Syria; and tillage systems for the drylands of Swaziland. Keith holds a BSc in Soil Science and PhD in Agricultural Botany from the University of Reading, UK and holds an Honorary Scientist position at Rothamsted Research in the UK.

Proximal soil sensing in agriculture–advancing from today’s applications to tomorrow’s opportunities

Proximal soil sensing holds significant potential to improve agriculture by delivering actionable soil information. How much progress has been made in today’s applications and how can we accelerate progress to capitalise on tomorrow’s opportunities? Soil sensing has value when there is a benefit to be gained from either: (i) larger numbers of measured samples, (ii) more rapid measurements, (iii) lower cost measurements, (iv) non-invasive measurements, or a combination of these. This capacity allows us to increase the spatial density and temporal frequency of soil measurements. These advantages translate into: (i) reduced estimation error and wider applicability of soil spatial models, and (ii) increased statistical precision for detecting management effects on soil properties and their changes over time. In which application areas has soil sensing moved beyond research and been routinely deployed? What are the tangible gains? I provide examples of successful applications of soil sensing at continental to local scales and examine the reasons for a lack of wider uptake. I conclude by providing recommendations for breaking bottlenecks to more effective use of proximal soil sensing in agriculture and to increasing the benefits for end users of soil information.


Dr. Julien Guillemoteau

Julien Guillemoteau is a senior researcher and lecturer in Applied Geophysics at the University of Potsdam, Germany. He teaches several modules on the theory and applications of electric/electromagnetic subsurface imaging methods (ERT, EMI and GPR) and of the potential field methods (gravity and magnetics). His research focuses on the design of optimal data acquisition and interpretation procedures aimed at exploiting the full imaging capability of geophysical data. During his PhD at the University of Strasbourg, France, he dedicated his research to basin scale problems, by developing efficient 2D transforms for airborne electromagnetic data. After his PhD, in 2012, he joined the working group of applied geophysics at the University of Potsdam, where he has been applying his research to ground-based near-surface exploration, in particular for soil sciences and archaeological applications. He has been participating in the development of moving geophysical sensing stations, designed high-resolution data-acquisition procedures, and developed high-resolution imaging algorithms. His recent research focuses on the simultaneous collection and integration of data from multiple geophysical methods.

Geophysical methods in soil sciences, agriculture and archaeology: recent advances in surveying and quantitative data analysis

Geophysical methods are efficient tools to characterize the spatial distribution and the temporal changes of the soil properties across hectare-scale areas. Recent technical developments include improvements in precision and sampling rate of the geophysical sensors, in new technologies supporting acquisition, such as automatic positioning setups combined with moving measurement stations (grounded and airborne), and real-time display of the data and positions. These new surveying tools now allow the collection of large and non-sparse data sets, which by definition can be interpreted with the full capacity in term of spatial and temporal resolution. In this presentation, I will perform a review of these recent advances with a particular emphasis on soil sciences, agricultural and archaeological applications, and discuss the potential for future developments.

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Mr. Steven De Meyer

Steven De Meyer is a master in Bioscience Engineering who graduated from KULeuven in 2007. After his first work experience at PCLT in Roeselare, where he started some of the first GPS and Precision Ag demonstration projects in Belgium, he started in 2011 for Vantage Agrometius. From the beginning, Steven picked up the software and sensor related questions of the larger customers in the market, as the interest in Precision Ag grew in Belgium, he started a soil scanning service in Belgium in 2015 with the Veris Soil Scanners. Since 2022 Steven is Product Manager for the Veris Services and the software portal for all countries of Agrometius. Vantage Agrometius is a company specialized in GPS and Precision Ag. Working with 120 people in 3 countries (Belgium, Netherlands and Germany). Importer for Trimble and Muller GPS, and several precision ag sensors, Agrometius goal is to improve the efficiency and/or turn over for their clients with GPS and Precision Ag solutions. They do this with a combination of hardware, software and agronomical knowledge. Agrometius is Veris importer since 2011 and distributes Veris soil scanners in several European countries.

Soil sensing technologies as a service, practical experiences

Mr. Steven De Meyer will give a speech during field demonstration.

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