I4S - Integrated System for Site-Specific Soil Fertility Management

Photo: Rumposch/ATB


I4S is an joint research project which develops solutions for maintaining and improving soil fertility within the framework of precision agriculture.

Soil is essential for human live. It is not only relevant for agricultural production but also plays an important role in recycling nutrients, cleaning water and preserving cultural heritage.

Soil fertility is the contribution of soil to crop yield. This comprises physical, chemical and biological soil properties. Examples for relevant physical soil properties are bulk density, pore space, particle size distribution (soil texture). Important chemical properties include pH and nutrients like nitrate, phosphate and potassium. Biological soil properties of relevance include the abundance and activity macro- and microorganisms that decompose plant residues.

Precision agriculture, also called site-specific farming, regards the spatial variation of soil and crop within a field. Compared to the uniform treatment of a field, which is the common standard in farming, precision agriculture adapts soil tillage, seed rate, fertilization and other measures to the local demands. This requires detailed information about soil and crop as well as appropriate strategies and equipment for site-specific management. While agricultural machinery manufacturers are offering versatile equipment for variable rate application there is still a lack of detailed soil information.

The soil information gap is due to the complex and inaccessible nature of soils. Conventional soil mapping based on soil sampling and analysis of samples in the laboratory is time consuming and expensive. Thus, many farmers cannot afford detailed soil mapping by conventional methods. For the same reasons, scientist are restricted and their research and the application of their findings. I4S bridges the soil information gap by developing of sensor based soil mapping systems and the adaptation of models of soil processes to integrate the sensor into a new decision support tool for site-specific fertilization, irrigation, and tillage.

 I4S is part of the


1st phase: Oct. 1, 2015 - Oct. 31, 2018
2nd phase: Nov. 1, 2018 - Feb 28, 2022
3rd phase: Mar. 1, 2022 - Feb 28, 2025