News Release 

How mobile phones could help smallholder farmers

Cranfield University

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Credit: Cranfield University

Cranfield University is collaborating with partners in Pakistan and Madagascar to evaluate how effective a mobile phone app is in helping remote smallholder farmers better fertilise their land. The research is funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering's Frontiers of Engineering for Development scheme.

Both Peshawar in Pakistan and Madagascar have remote areas with limited resources, so farming land must be managed effectively. In both areas, farmers are vulnerable to shocks to their agricultural system either from natural disasters or political instability. Vegetable production is key for smallholder farmers (SHF) and a new mobile phone app could help them target fertilisers to optimise yields. Cranfield University is leading the 12-month project to assess this system and compare it to conventional methods of land management.

Project lead, Dr Ruben Sakrabani, Senior Lecturer in Soil Chemistry said: "Fertiliser use is key in this subsistence system, but there's little data available to help farmers take measures to improve their current practices and management. This simple tool could make a huge difference to their farming yields, saving cost and improving their livelihoods."

The international team of researchers will work with SHFs to assess the mobile phone app for precision fertiliser management. The system uses a paper strip to analyse soil nutrients. The strip changes colour when inserted into soil extracts, and its colour intensity is measured by the app, which then recommends levels of fertiliser to use.

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Notes to editors:

The project team for 'Evaluating deployment of mobile phone Apps in smallholder fertiliser management' is

    Ruben Sakrabani, Cranfield University

    Harinaivo Ramanantoanina, Engineers Order of Madagascar

    Lina Raharasoavelohanta, AIM - Action Intercooperation Madagascar

    Afia Zia, Peshawar Agricultural University

For further information please contact:

Media Relations, Cranfield University. T: +44 (0) 1234 75 4999

Email: mediarelations@cranfield.ac.uk

About Cranfield University

Cranfield is an exclusively postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.

Royal Academy of Engineering

As the UK's national academy for engineering and technology, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers from academia and business - our Fellows - to advance and promote excellence in engineering for the benefit of society.

We harness their experience and expertise to provide independent advice to government, to deliver programmes that help exceptional engineering researchers and innovators realise their potential, to engage the public with engineering and to provide leadership for the profession.

We have three strategic priorities:

    Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation and businesses

    Address the engineering skills and diversity challenge

    Position engineering at the heart of society

    We bring together engineers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, business leaders, academics, educators and the public in pursuit of these goals.

Engineering is a global profession, so we work with partners across the world to advance engineering's contribution to society on an international, as well as a national scale. http://www.raeng.org.uk

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