GeoNutrition - tackling hidden hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa

Lead Research Organisation: Rothamsted Research
Department Name: Sustainable Agriculture Sciences-H

Abstract

Mineral Micronutrient Deficiencies (MNDs) are widespread in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). MNDs (a.k.a. hidden hunger) have a major detrimental effect on human health which constrains economic growth and efforts to alleviate poverty. Alleviating MNDs is a major component of the second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG2), to "End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture", by 2030. This Foundation Award will focus on supporting efforts to reduce MNDs in Ethiopia and Malawi, two countries with widespread mineral nutrient malnutrition problems where dietary mineral intakes fall well below levels required for optimal nutrition. For example, zinc deficiency risks are >40% in both countries which causes high rates of child mortality and stunting. Selenium deficiency risks exceed 75% in Malawi, compromising the healthy functioning of human immune systems. Iron and iodine deficiencies are widespread and are the focus of widespread supplementation and food fortification programmes (i.e. technical 'fixes') in the region.

The scientific aim of this Foundation Award is to understand how the spectral properties of tropical African soils relate to plant-availability of minerals in soils and, subsequently, to the transfer of minerals into the edible portions of staple crops and diets, and to population-level biomarkers of optimal mineral status. Achieving this aim will enable the geospatial prediction of plant-available nutrients in soils and in edible crop tissues, and thereby in downstream food systems. Spectral properties have previously been measured on a massive scale by the Africa Soils Information Service (AfSIS) programme, using X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) and Mid Infra-Red (MIR) spectroscopy. We have previously identified strong links between soil-crop-biomarkers in small-scale cross-sectional studies in Malawi.

This aim will be realised through activities in three Themes. In Theme 1, a designed soil and crop sampling programme will be conducted at 500 sites in Ethiopia. Two sets of statistical models will be developed, the first will focus on predicting relationships between total (XRF) and plant-available soil mineral concentrations, using covariate data from MIR, remote sensing and legacy data (e.g. maps) sources. The second set of models will focus on relationships between plant-available soil mineral concentrations and their concentrations in crop edible portions. In Theme 2, these data will be integrated with data from published/government sources to predict dietary mineral supply (and highlight knowledge gaps). These predictions will be tested against mineral biomarker data (e.g. blood, urine) and proxies of micronutrient status (e.g. stunting) from national surveillance programmes. Outputs of Themes 1 and 2 will be delivered in the forms of maps and reports suited to communicating with policy-makers, to include the communication of uncertainty. Maps will be used to highlight those geographical areas that are at highest likely risk of MNDs. The focus of Theme 3 is interactions with policy-makers to optimise communication strategies, and to strengthen networks and capacity to conduct longer-term R&D to address knowledge gaps in the region.

We have well-established networks of partners in Ethiopia and Malawi, including academics, high-level policy-makers, NGOs and industry, who will all play active roles to ensure that the Foundation Award delivers genuine impact that will be assessed using robust evaluation procedures.

Technical Summary

GeoNutrition is a framework to help reduce mineral Micronutrient Deficiencies (MNDs) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It adds value to the Africa Soils Information Service (AfSIS) programme, whose current focus is soils information, by integrating the spheres of agriculture, nutrition and public health. The initial scope is Ethiopia and Malawi, due to established interactions with academics and policy-makers.

Our scientific aim is to understand how the spectral properties of tropical soils relate to plant-availability of soil minerals and subsequent mineral transfers into the edible portions of staple crops. Spectral properties have previously been measured by AfSIS using X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) and Mid Infra-Red (MIR) spectroscopy.

Soils/staple-crops will be sampled at 500 new sites (Ethiopia, late-2017). Soil properties influencing plant-availability (e.g. iron sesquioxides, effective cation exchange capacity, phosphate binding capacity) and MIR/XRF (e.g. pH, organic C) analyses will be conducted on the same samples. Mechanisms controlling nutrient binding/release will be identified and plant-available soil concentrations predicted at all AfSIS sites using Linear Mixed Modelling (covariates include satellite data and legacy maps). Similar models of staple-crop mineral composition and dietary mineral supplies will be developed at co-located sites and published/government sources.

Co-regionalised mapping will include estimates of (un)certainty in visual and verbal forms. Maps will show areas to be at the highest likely risk of MNDs to frame knowledge gaps. These predictions will be tested against mineral biomarker data (e.g. blood, urine) and proxies of MND status (e.g. stunting) from national surveillance programmes. Interactions with policy-makers to optimise communication strategies for different groups, and to strengthen networks/capacity to conduct longer-term R&D to address regional knowledge gaps is embedded within the work programme.

Planned Impact

The impact of our research is aimed towards enhancing the quality of life, health and well-being of people in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The initial focus of GeoNutrition is Ethiopia and Malawi (Low Income Countries, LICs), both with major Micronutrient Deficiency (MND) problems, but it is scalable to other countries. By developing a multidisciplinary and geospatial 'Agriculture-to-Nutrition' framework, GeoNutrition can support several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the elimination of hunger (SDG2), good health and wellbeing (SDG3), reduced inequalities (SDG10), and responsible consumption and production (SDG12).

Preliminary and single-mineral micronutrient studies have already enabled us to link soil type to food composition, dietary mineral supply and socioeconomic factors in Malawi. This led directly to secondary biomarker analyses in the 2015/16 National Micronutrient Survey, by the Government of Malawi, which was a pilot 'Pathways to Impact' activity. Such activities will be extended in this Foundation Award, albeit on a larger scale and in multiple countries, for several mineral micronutrients. The GeoNutrition approach has potential applications across the entire African continent. The Africa Soils Information Service (AfSIS) has prepared digital soil maps across Africa.

The idea of testing the wider application of spectral properties of tropical African soils in food, nutrition and health domains is highly innovative. We have identified scientific and logistical risk factors to achieving project success in the Management Plan. However, even with partial success, this project would help to address the historical problem that expensive wet chemistry techniques are difficult to deploy in SSA. Some successes are virtually certain based on preliminary pilot-scale work.

A successful GeoNutrition project will integrate natural and social sciences approaches, and thereby provide considerable value for monitoring/testing policy interventions through a geospatial framework. This integrated, multidisciplinary, geospatial framework is designed to build an R&D platform to support evidence based policy making. For example, GeoNutrition can be used to identify areas of high/low/uncertain mineral intakes, and potential cohorts of volunteers to study the health effects of interventions for long-term monitoring.

From a natural sciences perspective, the data and approaches used in GeoNutrition have the potential to shape/enhance soil and crop management decisions, and investment in breeding programmes. For example, it can inform decisions on how to prioritise R&D and deploy new traits/varieties most effectively to benefit consumers, farmers, and the wider industry.

From a social sciences perspective, food systems research from both consumer (demand-driven) and producer (supply-driven) perspectives could potentially be transformed by being able to account for spatial variations in food mineral compositions. The flows of some minerals (e.g. zinc, iron, iodine) through food systems can be integrated into health burden/outcome-based socioeconomic frameworks (e.g. using Disability Adjusted Life Years, DALYs). Thus, our findings can contribute immediately towards influencing public policies to address MNDs at local, regional and national scales, e.g. through education and dietary diversification. We expect that our work will support the development of similar frameworks for other minerals (e.g. selenium).

Our "Pathways to Impact" activities will align directly with an ongoing (University of Nottingham-led) capacity strengthening project, funded by the Royal Society-DFID. This programme is seeking to increase doctoral training opportunities in SSA, with a focus on human (student, academic, technical) and infrastructural (lab., admin., finance) capacity. The impact of this project and wider programme is being evaluated using a Theory of Change framework, which we will also deploy for GeoNutrition.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The Amhara soil and grain sampling survey has been completed. This work was of critical value, because it allowed us to: (i) deploy robust field and lab SOPs and training procedures; (ii) use informed participatory risk assessments with field staff; (iii) design ethical approval and consent procedures and submissions; (iv) develop and test statistical analysis methods that link measurement of soil conditions to crop composition and potential dietary intakes from staple crops; and (v) to make special predictions of the amounts of nutrients supplied in grain in the region, which is key to determine where and which crops require interventions.
Soil and grain samples have been analysed in ICRAF, RRes and UoN labs; sample duplicates have been retained by AAU in Ethiopia for future analyses. We conducted more analyses than planned, including new method development. For example, we: (i) modified soil fractionation protocols to gain greater insights on soil selenium, iodine, silicon and sulphur dynamics; (ii) completed more detailed analyses on soil zinc lability/crop availability using stable zinc isotopes; (iii) optimized grain iodine analyses because grain iodine concentrations were smaller than expected. A methods-development manuscript has been submitted.
We have conducted two broad types of geospatial analysis on the Amhara data. The first was to explore evidence for spatial dependencies in grain mineral concentration in teff and wheat. For both crops, and for almost all mineral elements tested to date, we find spatial variation in grain concentration exhibited by either a trend in the mean, or spatial dependence of a substantial proportion of the random variation, or both, over scales of several 10s of km. For grain zinc, and other mineral (e.g. Ca, Mo, and Mn) concentrations, more than half the variation is spatially correlated. These analyses vindicate the 'GeoNutrition' approach because they indicate that the supply of micronutrients from local food sources is spatially variable, and so an effective response to deficiency must account for this variation, possibly through management of spatially variable drivers such as soil conditions. In the second more detailed data analysis, we focused on the main target elements (selenium and zinc) to identify the most important soil and landscape co-variates for spatial prediction and to map the spatial variation of grain concentrations and the probability that grain can support adequate intake. A manuscript (on grain selenium concentration) has been submitted.
http://www.geonutrition.com/
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.cabi.ofra
Exploitation Route Based on this work, we successfully bid for a larger (more than £4.4M) GeoNutrition project from BMGF that covers larger areas of cropland in Ethiopia and Malawi, and includes growing agronomically fortified maize with increased micro-nutrient content to be used in a human intervention study, thus extending the scope of the programme and broadening out the multidisciplinary aspects of the work. The larger project also has budget for capacity building via funding PhD students and providing training in field and lab research.
Further substantial co-investment was secured from the UK Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) for GeoNutrition-informed mapping activities: (1) in Pakistan, BiZiFED2, led by University of Central Lancashire (£1.6M); (2) in Zimbabwe, led by University of Nottingham through an institute-level GCRF Research Translation Award (£0.92M), Translating GeoNutrition, which aims to support the Government of Zimbabwe design a nationally-representative micronutrient survey in 2020; and (3) a project entitled Developing combined interventions to address the Double Burden of Malnutrition in Zimbabwe, led by RRes (£0.82M).
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other

 
Description The results helped shape the direction of future work, especially in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded (>£4.4M) GeoNutrition project which uses the techniques and protocols we developed and extends the science in two main ways. One is to conduct national surveys of Malawi and the rest of Ethiopia, providing unique coverage of all of the cereal producing areas of two countries in Africa. The other is to focus on extending a landscape-level design for agronomic intervention experiments, and supporting the production of grain with and without fortification to use in human intervention studies. This larger follow-on project enables the study to extend as far as human biomarkers of micronutrient deficiencies and therefore potential impacts on human health of interventions, and linking back to soil and crop mapping will allows interventions to be targeted more efficiently to where they are needed. There is scope to link our approaches and data analyses to other ongoing agronomy initiatives outside of GeoNutrition projects. Our approach has succeeded and is being extended to more countries and will help more governments and other agencies to target nutritional interventions which are a high priority in developing countries. Also, in association with this work, a Fertilizer Optimizer app has been produced with CABI for: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia and is available to use in English, French and Portuguese. This enables anyone with a smart phone to more effectively utilise fertilisers for their specific local conditions and crops.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Environment,Healthcare
 
Description Evidence given for the impact and benefit of international development research supported by UK agri-science. APPG on Science & Technology in Agriculture Annual Report 2017/18
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL http://www.appg-agscience.org.uk
 
Description Syngenta Code for Sustainable and Responsible Agriculture
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description A Combined food systems approach to scale up interventions to address double burden of malnutrition
Amount £825,000 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/T009047/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2020 
End 02/2023
 
Description Chemical and Biological Assessment of AfSIS soils
Amount £565,211 (GBP)
Funding ID BBS/OS/GC/000014B 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2016 
End 07/2017
 
Description Fertiliser Optimiser App
Amount £56,263 (GBP)
Funding ID BBS/OS/GC/200014A 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2017 
End 07/2018
 
Description GeoNutrition-reducing 'hidden hunger' in Ethiopia and Malawi
Amount £4,400,000 (GBP)
Organisation Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United States
Start 01/2018 
End 07/2022
 
Title Dry spectral analysis laboratory . 
Description New dry spectral analysis laboratory set up for diagnostic assessment of soils, plants, fertilizers and manures in association with the African Soil Information Service and ICRAF 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The instrumentation is also bring used for outer purposes as part of students PhD work 
 
Title Global Soils metgenomic library 
Description collection of over 450 shotgun metagenome data sets collected from various public repositories and generated from pristine and managed soils around the globe. These are being used to assess the diversity of micro-organisms and functions and study the effects of management upon soil communities.Partnerships with Bioplatforms Australia and the African Soils information service is contributing metagenomes from across Australia and sub-Saharan Africa to this database and extending the utility of the resource. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact none yet 
 
Title Open Data on AWS: Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS) Soil Chemistry 
Description This dataset contains soil infrared spectral data and paired soil property reference measurements for georeferenced soil samples that were collected through the Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS) project, which lasted from 2009 through 2018. Georeferenced samples were collected from 19 countries in Sub-Saharan African using a statistically sound sampling scheme, and their soil properties were analyzed using both conventional soil testing methods and spectral methods (infrared diffuse reflectance spectroscopy). 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The two types of data can be paired to form a training dataset for machine learning, such that certain soil properties can be well-predicted through less expensive spectral techniques. 
URL https://registry.opendata.aws/afsis/
 
Title Open-access data on African soils available via Amazon DB 
Description iGCRF data relating to African soils were used in the first open-access Amazon DB related to soils information. This was announced in December 2018. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This data will help develop high resolution, ground-truthed maps covering various African regions related to soil chemistry and fertility 
 
Description GeoNutrition-tackling hidden hunger in sub-Saharan Africa 
Organisation Addis Ababa University
Country Ethiopia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We will perform the wet chemistry (including inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, ICP-MS) to quantify properties influencing mineral bioavailability such as iron sesquioxides, effective cation exchange capacity, phosphate binding capacity. Solid-state MIR and XRF measurements on the same samples will be made in AfSIS labs,providing complementary data on total elements, pH and organic C. Together, these data sets will allow us to determine which soil factors are most important in determining crop metal concentrations and help to identify the mechanisms which control nutrient binding and release. It will enable us to determine if the wet chemical results can be predicted reliably from solid-state measurements that can be performed in Africa
Collaborator Contribution data in relation to aspects of human nutrition
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description GeoNutrition-tackling hidden hunger in sub-Saharan Africa 
Organisation British Geological Survey
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We will perform the wet chemistry (including inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, ICP-MS) to quantify properties influencing mineral bioavailability such as iron sesquioxides, effective cation exchange capacity, phosphate binding capacity. Solid-state MIR and XRF measurements on the same samples will be made in AfSIS labs,providing complementary data on total elements, pH and organic C. Together, these data sets will allow us to determine which soil factors are most important in determining crop metal concentrations and help to identify the mechanisms which control nutrient binding and release. It will enable us to determine if the wet chemical results can be predicted reliably from solid-state measurements that can be performed in Africa
Collaborator Contribution Responsibility for sampling design for WP1.1, and statistical modelling in WP1.4. Also contribute to the development of methods to communicate uncertain information in Theme 3. All
Impact NONE YET
Start Year 2017
 
Description GeoNutrition-tackling hidden hunger in sub-Saharan Africa 
Organisation Columbia University
Department Africa Soil Information Service
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We will perform the wet chemistry (including inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, ICP-MS) to quantify properties influencing mineral bioavailability such as iron sesquioxides, effective cation exchange capacity, phosphate binding capacity. Solid-state MIR and XRF measurements on the same samples will be made in AfSIS labs,providing complementary data on total elements, pH and organic C. Together, these data sets will allow us to determine which soil factors are most important in determining crop metal concentrations and help to identify the mechanisms which control nutrient binding and release. It will enable us to determine if the wet chemical results can be predicted reliably from solid-state measurements that can be performed in Africa
Collaborator Contribution AfSIS staff will contribute to remote sensing, field data collection, soil & plant laboratory, software development and data science workflows
Impact NONE YET
Start Year 2017
 
Description GeoNutrition-tackling hidden hunger in sub-Saharan Africa 
Organisation Columbia University
Department Earth Institute
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We will perform the wet chemistry (including inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, ICP-MS) to quantify properties influencing mineral bioavailability such as iron sesquioxides, effective cation exchange capacity, phosphate binding capacity. Solid-state MIR and XRF measurements on the same samples will be made in AfSIS labs, providing complementary data on total elements, pH and organic C. Together, these data sets will allow us to determine which soil factors are most important in determining crop metal concentrations and help to identify the mechanisms which control nutrient binding and release. It will enable us to determine if the wet chemical results can be predicted reliably from solid-state measurements that can be performed in Africa
Collaborator Contribution provide access to data and expertise
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description GeoNutrition-tackling hidden hunger in sub-Saharan Africa 
Organisation Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture
Country Ethiopia 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We will perform the wet chemistry (including inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, ICP-MS) to quantify properties influencing mineral bioavailability such as iron sesquioxides, effective cation exchange capacity, phosphate binding capacity. Solid-state MIR and XRF measurements on the same samples will be made in AfSIS labs,providing complementary data on total elements, pH and organic C. Together, these data sets will allow us to determine which soil factors are most important in determining crop metal concentrations and help to identify the mechanisms which control nutrient binding and release. It will enable us to determine if the wet chemical results can be predicted reliably from solid-state measurements that can be performed in Africa
Collaborator Contribution Provide expertise and access to datasets and maps from Ethiosis
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description GeoNutrition-tackling hidden hunger in sub-Saharan Africa 
Organisation International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT)
Country Mexico 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We will perform the wet chemistry (including inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, ICP-MS) to quantify properties influencing mineral bioavailability such as iron sesquioxides, effective cation exchange capacity, phosphate binding capacity. Solid-state MIR and XRF measurements on the same samples will be made in AfSIS labs,providing complementary data on total elements, pH and organic C. Together, these data sets will allow us to determine which soil factors are most important in determining crop metal concentrations and help to identify the mechanisms which control nutrient binding and release. It will enable us to determine if the wet chemical results can be predicted reliably from solid-state measurements that can be performed in Africa
Collaborator Contribution Provision of datasets and expertise
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description GeoNutrition-tackling hidden hunger in sub-Saharan Africa 
Organisation Lilongwe University of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Country Malawi 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We will perform the wet chemistry on the soil samples. The data produced will allow us to determine which soil factors are most important in determining crop metal concentrations and help to identify the mechanisms which control nutrient binding and release. It will enable us to determine if the wet chemical results can be predicted reliably from solid-state measurements that can be performed in Africa
Collaborator Contribution staff time, expertise on soil science and human nutrition.
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description GeoNutrition-tackling hidden hunger in sub-Saharan Africa 
Organisation London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We will perform the wet chemistry (including inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, ICP-MS) to quantify properties influencing mineral bioavailability such as iron sesquioxides, effective cation exchange capacity, phosphate binding capacity. Solid-state MIR and XRF measurements on the same samples will be made in AfSIS labs,providing complementary data on total elements, pH and organic C. Together, these data sets will allow us to determine which soil factors are most important in determining crop metal concentrations and help to identify the mechanisms which control nutrient binding and release. It will enable us to determine if the wet chemical results can be predicted reliably from solid-state measurements that can be performed in Africa
Collaborator Contribution They will lead food systems analyses using both agricultural and social sciences perspectives. They will integrate crop composition, food supply, nutrition and food systems datasets. Assist with field work implementation of crop/soil sampling in Malawi and Ethiopia. Contribute to report and paper writing and presentation of findings, with a focus on engaging the nutrition community.
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description GeoNutrition-tackling hidden hunger in sub-Saharan Africa 
Organisation Ministry of Health Malawi
Country Malawi 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We will perform the wet chemistry (including inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, ICP-MS) to quantify properties influencing mineral bioavailability such as iron sesquioxides, effective cation exchange capacity, phosphate binding capacity. Solid-state MIR and XRF measurements on the same samples will be made in AfSIS labs,providing complementary data on total elements, pH and organic C. Together, these data sets will allow us to determine which soil factors are most important in determining crop metal concentrations and help to identify the mechanisms which control nutrient binding and release. It will enable us to determine if the wet chemical results can be predicted reliably from solid-state measurements that can be performed in Africa
Collaborator Contribution Science and policy related expertise
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description GeoNutrition-tackling hidden hunger in sub-Saharan Africa 
Organisation Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development
Country Malawi 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We will perform the wet chemistry (including inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, ICP-MS) to quantify properties influencing mineral bioavailability such as iron sesquioxides, effective cation exchange capacity, phosphate binding capacity. Solid-state MIR and XRF measurements on the same samples will be made in AfSIS labs,providing complementary data on total elements, pH and organic C. Together, these data sets will allow us to determine which soil factors are most important in determining crop metal concentrations and help to identify the mechanisms which control nutrient binding and release. It will enable us to determine if the wet chemical results can be predicted reliably from solid-state measurements that can be performed in Africa
Collaborator Contribution data on assessments of selenium deficiency based on food systems and biomarker assessments, demonstrating a strong link between soil type and selenium deficiency.
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description GeoNutrition-tackling hidden hunger in sub-Saharan Africa 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Department School of Biosciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We will perform the wet chemistry (including inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, ICP-MS) to quantify properties influencing mineral bioavailability such as iron sesquioxides, effective cation exchange capacity, phosphate binding capacity. Solid-state MIR and XRF measurements on the same samples will be made in AfSIS labs,providing complementary data on total elements, pH and organic C. Together, these data sets will allow us to determine which soil factors are most important in determining crop metal concentrations and help to identify the mechanisms which control nutrient binding and release. It will enable us to determine if the wet chemical results can be predicted reliably from solid-state measurements that can be performed in Africa
Collaborator Contribution They will develop new crop/food composition databases for food systems analyses.Ensure the project aligns with ongoing research, including human micronutrient studies and capacity strengthening in doctoral training, in Ethiopia, Malawi, and elsewhere. Will carry out 2500 grain digests for multi-element and iodine), phytate analyses on grains and edible portions and then quantifiy phytic acid in grains.
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description GeoNutrition-tackling hidden hunger in sub-Saharan Africa 
Organisation World Agroforestry Centre
Country Kenya 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We will perform the wet chemistry (including inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, ICP-MS) to quantify properties influencing mineral bioavailability such as iron sesquioxides, effective cation exchange capacity, phosphate binding capacity. Solid-state MIR and XRF measurements on the same samples will be made in AfSIS labs,providing complementary data on total elements, pH and organic C. Together, these data sets will allow us to determine which soil factors are most important in determining crop metal concentrations and help to identify the mechanisms which control nutrient binding and release. It will enable us to determine if the wet chemical results can be predicted reliably from solid-state measurements that can be performed in Africa
Collaborator Contribution staff will contribute to field data collection, soil & plant laboratory, software development and data science workflows: Total soil mineral concentrations for many elements, and soil physical and chemical properties, have been inferred from spectral data and then mapped across Africa
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Title Fertilizer Optimizer App 
Description The Fertilizer Optimzer App (which can be downloaded from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.cabi.ofra&hl=en_US) is now deployed in fifteen countries, including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana and Ethiopia. The largest number of download requests (536) have come from India. Since the app was first released we have had ~2.6k downloads. There have been 17.7k sessions (optimization calculations) on the app. An upgrade to the mobile phone app now offers farmers across Africa even more benefits and cutting-edge fertilizer use technology. This will help farmers to grow healthier, more productive crops with increased profitability, as a result of more informed use of how small amounts of fertilizer impact the crops they grow. Pilot work on the CABI Fertilizer Optimizer app in Uganda has shown that some farmers realised up to a seven-fold increases in yield. Using funding from the BBSRC Global Challenges Research Fund, the app has now been upgraded to make it easier to use. The new app includes an integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) practices feature, and a calibration tool which helps farmers to apply the correct quantity of fertilizer to their crops. The Fertilizer Optimizer app is designed to help resource-constrained farmers to maximise the return on investment on fertilizer, based on what the farmer can realistically afford. In the latest version of the Fertilizer Optimizer app it is possible to calibrate the fertilizer recommendation to the planting conditions of a user's field. Version 1 of the app provided users with an amount of fertilizer to use and an application rate (e.g. 5kg per hectare). Now it is possible to enter field measurements, container sizes and preferred application technique and the app will help to evenly distribute the recommended fertilizers across the crop providing actionable information tailored to a each field. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2018 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact This app supports using fertilizer more efficiently to optimize a farmer's fertilizer investments. The app asks for information on crops grown, area planted, expected crop sale prices, fertilizer costs and the farmer's budget for investment in fertilizer products. Based on robust crop response functions, it calculates the most profitable combination of fertilizers to purchase and advises on crop and site-specific application rates. The app can also consider any integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) practices to tailor the fertilizer recommendation to individual farms. The Fertilizer Optimizer app has been created so that extension workers and farmers have free access to fertilizer advice, on mobile devices. The app runs offline allowing optimization calculations in the field. The app periodically checks servers for updates to the tool, so it is always recommending the most up-to-date advice. The Fertilizer Optimizer has been produced for: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia and is available to use in English, French and Portuguese. Since the app was first released it has been downloaded by ~2.6k users. There have been 17.7k sessions (optimization calculations) on the app. 
 
Company Name Innovative Solutions for Decision Agriculture (iSDA) 
Description Innovative Solutions for Decision Agriculture (iSDA) has been set up in the UK, and discussions are ongoing about its strategy. It is the successor to the AfSIS project, focussing on providing services and products developed in AfSIS and its own advances, including developments in BB/P023126/1 and BBS/E/C/000I0310. iSDA's founding partners are RRes, ICRAF and IITA. It is likely to be funded by BMGF for 5 years. Its main base will be in Nairobi. iSDA was established to build on the AfSIS work and to develop a sustainable, long term operating model that mixes open innovation with a variety of income sources. 
Year Established 2018 
Impact The project has combined historic data with remote sensing information and new field sampling techniques to create the first ever digital soil map of Africa. Built upon the principles of open innovation and co-development, the technologies and methodologies developed by AfSIS are freely available and remain highly relevant in other areas of the world.
Website https://www.isda-global.org/
 
Description New funding for Zimbabwe micronutrient research 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Press release via University of Nottingham
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/news/zimbabwe-micronutrient-research
 
Description Predicting human selenium status based on staple crops selenium concentration 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact ANH Academy Week Meeting. 25-29 June 2018, Accra, Ghana.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description "How can soil data help us tackle hidden hunger?". 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A video produced to explain how we can use soil data help us tackle hidden hunger and how soil management could reveal new ways to tackle it in sub-Saharan Africa
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.geonutrition.com/
 
Description "Soil properties which influence bioavailability". 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Steve McGrath was an invited introductory speaker at the DEFRA Minerals from Grassland Workshop on Friday 22 February 2019 at Rothamsted Conference Centre, Harpenden.
There were four other presentations and discussions, including research gaps, at the Workshop with 30 attendees
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description 'Plant nutrition, with a focus on the nutritional quality of crops and food systems' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Blog on by Martin Broadley:
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/research/inspiring-people/future-food/martin-broadley.aspx
 
Description (LUANAR): Installation of microwave plasma atomic emission spectrophotometer 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Press coverage was covered by newspapers: The Nation (14th February 2019), The Daily Times (15th February 2019), and by Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) TV (15th February 2019).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Addressing hidden hunger: from soils to people 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact GeoNutrition project launching meeting in Lilongwe- discussion afterwards
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.geonutrition.com/blog/addressing-hidden-hunger-from-soils-to-people
 
Description AfSIS and related GeoNutrition projects. AfSIS/iSDA Workshop, 29-30 October, ICRAF, Nairobi. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact To share information and progress on the Project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Associations between soil zinc, serum zinc, and linear growth of children in Ethiopia 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Poster paper presented at Nutrition 2018, June 9-12, Boston, USA
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Conference - Washington DC, October 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Prof Steve McGrath was invited to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Conference in Washington DC, 2-5th October 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Consortium meeting and stakeholder feedback in Malawi, November 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact television and newspaper coverage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Experimental methods to assess the impact of nutrition-sensitive agricultural technologies 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Paper presented at the Interdepartmental Nutrition Program Seminar. March 29 2018, Purdue University, West Lafayette, USA.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Festival of Science held at Rothamsted Research- exhibit entitled "Hidden Hunger" and The Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact More than 8000 visitors attended the event over 3 days, including one day for schools and invited people of importance.
Our exhibit "Hidden hunger' discussed the deficiency of essential vitamins and minerals in the diet. Worldwide, more than 2 billion people lack vital micronutrients. Deficiencies of iron, zinc and iodine are recognized as having the largest negative impact on public health (WHO, 2006). In association with AfSIS (Africa Soil Information Service), our lab has recently is focused on developing the use of dry spectroscopy for the rapid and high-throughput analysis of the physical and chemical properties of soil and crop material. We showcased one of the instruments: pXRF (portable X-ray Fluorescence) which analyses the total elemental content of virtually any substance in an instant. We analysed the elemental content of a range of food stuffs from fizzy drinks to 'super-foods', to find out how nutritious (or not!) they are. Visitors were invited to have their own food items scanned. We encouraged visitors to think about how nutritious their food is or is not.
We showed our " nutrient maps" of Africa and discussed stable crop varieties grown in Africa.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Food crops for people and the planet 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Panellist, N8 AgriFood International Conference. People, Health and Food Systems: Challenges and Solutions for 2030, 13-14 June 2018, Liverpool, UK. .
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.n8agrifood.ac.uk/media/Final-PDF-Liverpool-2018-At-a-glance-agenda_22-May-2018.docx-1.pd...
 
Description GeoNutrition meeting and Dissemination Event, Rothamsted, 29 August 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Discussion on data produced
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Hidden Hunger, Nutritious Horizons 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact DFID Research and Evidence Division Blog (Martin Broadley), includes discussion on GeoNutrition
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://medium.com/@DFID_Research/hidden-hunger-nutritious-horizons-1977100066ae
 
Description How can soil data help us tackle hidden hunger 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Facebook post showcasing the video discussing using soil data to tackle hidden hunger in Africa. 1.2K Views
34 Likes 2 Comments 23 Shares
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FRothamsted%2Fvideos...
 
Description Iodine, selenium and technetium availability to plants: the role of chemical speciation to resolve variable transfer factors 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Oral Presentation, 34th International Society for Experimental Geochemistry and Health (SEGH) Conference, 2-7 July 2018, Livingstone, Zambia. Lots of discussion and questions sparked afterwards
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://britgeopeople.blogspot.com/2018/08/34th-segh-international-conference-on.html
 
Description Landscape plotted and pieced", models of soil variation and challenges for sustainable agriculture. Inaugural Professorial Lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Inaugural Professorial Lecture, University of Nottingham, 6 November 2018, Nottingham, UK. Sparked question and discussion afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description MAPS: A tool to assess actions in food and agriculture systems to address micronutrient deficiencies 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Nutrition Modeling Consortium, 8-9 November 2018, The New York Academy of Sciences, New York, USA. The intention of the tutorials was to facilitate a more profound understanding of one another's tools; and with that foundation, enhance collaboration and commitment to the Consortium's common goal of guiding countries to the tools that best suit their needs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.nyas.org/media/18638/nmc-nov2018-meeting-report-final.pdf
 
Description Managing variability and uncertainty in geochemical information on soil: from sampling to inference to communication 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Oral Presentation, 34th International Society for Experimental Geochemistry and Health (SEGH) Conference, 2-7 July 2018, Livingstone, Zambia,
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://segh2018.org
 
Description Oral Presentation, Role of soils and fertilizer management in crop and human nutrition under contrasting smallholder cropping 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 18th International Plant Nutrition Colloquium: Plant Nutrition for Global Green Growth, 21-24 August 2017, Copenhagen, Denmark. Sparked questions and discussions afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://ipnc2017.org/
 
Description Oral presentation "Increasing diet-acquired zinc uptake by smallholder farmers". 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Lancaster Biofortification Discussion Workshop, 27 July 2017, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Progress meeting/visit to farms in Kenya for partnering award 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Prof Jenni Dungait and Laura Cardenas attended progress meeting/visit to farms in Kenya for partnering award plus completion of GCRF proposal (Nov 2017).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Randomized interventions to measure the impact of agricultural technologies 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Paper presented at the Conference "Making Smallholder Agriculture More Nutrition-Sensitive: The Role of Innovation and Extension" 22-23 March 2018, Nairobi, Kenya.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Royal Society Blog, focus on Muneta Grace Maneke 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://royalsociety.org/grants-schemes-awards/grants/africa-capacity-building/grace-manzeke/
 
Description Selenium in Malawi: agronomic biofortification to address widespread deficiency? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Oral Presentation to the Lancaster Biofortification Discussion Workshop, 27 July 2017, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK. There was questions and discussions afterwards
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Smallholder fertilizer management and soil type influence grain zinc and iron concentration under contrasting cropping systems in Zimbabwe. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Oral Presentation, 34th International Society for Experimental Geochemistry and Health (SEGH) Conference, 2-7 July 2018, Livingstone, Zambia,
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://segh2018.org
 
Description Soil Health Policy 18th June 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Visit and workshop with Soil Policy Advisors
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Soil zinc, serum zinc, and the potential for agronomic biofortification to reduce human zinc deficiency in Ethiopia. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Paper presented at the 3rd Agriculture, Nutrition & Health (ANH) Academy Week, 25-29 June 2018, Accra, Ghana
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Spatial selenium variation in crops, soil and humans 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The 8th African Nutritional Epidemiology Conference. October 1-5, 2018, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Status of micronutrients (selenium) in Malawi: issues and trends. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 11th International Symposium on Selenium in Biology and Medicine and the 5th International Conference on Selenium in the Environment and Human Health: 200 Years of Selenium Research 1817-2017, 13-17 August 2017, Stockholm, Sweden•
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.se2017.se/
 
Description Sub-Saharan Africa Soil Fertility Prioritization Survey 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Prof Steve McGrath took part in the Sub-Saharan Africa Soil Fertility Prioritization Survey to support USAID efforts to prioritize future soil fertility efforts in Africa.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Tackling Malawi's hidden hunger 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact an extended piece by Rob Ounsworth (UoN) reporting on GeoNutrition activities in Malawi. Raised awareness of the work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/vision/spotlight/2018/summer/tackling-malawis-hidden-hunger.aspx
 
Description Talk to BMGF Ag-Dev team June 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Shared information, sparked discussion and questions
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description The London Interdisciplinary Biosciences Consortium at Kings College , London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited to present a talk on Soil Science entitled "Improving Soils for Crop Production and Human Nutrition". by The London Interdisciplinary Biosciences Consortium.
The London Interdisciplinary Biosciences Consortium is one of the largest BBSRC funded Doctoral Training Partnerships in the UK. Representing an exciting collaboration between six of London's world-class universities and specialist institutions, the consortium provides students with a unique opportunity to pursue innovative interdisciplinary research projects.The aim of the events was to provide a range of leading academic, industry and not for profit speakers and deliver a rounded and comprehensive subject view for each themed day.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://lido-dtp.ac.uk/
 
Description The ethics of environmental geochemistry and health research: human participant involvement and beyond 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Oral Presentation, 34th International Society for Experimental Geochemistry and Health (SEGH) Conference, 2-7 July 2018, Livingstone, Zambia, https://segh2018.org
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Wefarm visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact To discuss how WeFarm and Rothamsted could work together
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018