Purdue University Graduate School
Dissertation.pdf (13.65 MB)

Utilization of Legacy Soil Data for Digital Soil Mapping and Data Delivery for the Busia Area, Kenya

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posted on 2019-12-06, 11:00 authored by Joshua O MinaiJoshua O Minai
Much older soils data and soils information lies idle in libraries and archives and is largely unused, especially in developing countries like Kenya. We demonstrated the usefulness of a stepwise approach to bring legacy soils data ‘back to life’ using the 1980 Reconnaissance Soil Map of the Busia Area (quarter degree sheet No. 101) in western Kenya as an example. Three studies were conducted by using agronomic information, field observations, and laboratory data available in the published soil survey report as inputs to several digital soil mapping techniques. In the first study, the agronomic information in the survey report was interpreted to generate 10 land quality maps. The maps represented the ability of the land to perform specific agronomic functions. Nineteen crop suitability maps that were not previously available were also generated. In the second study, a dataset of 76 profile points mined from the survey report was used as input to three spatial prediction models for soil organic carbon (SOC) and texture. The three predictions models were (i) ordinary kriging, (ii) stepwise multiple linear regression, and (iii) the Soil Land Inference Model (SoLIM). Statistically, ordinary kriging performed better than SoLIM and stepwise multiple linear regression in predicting SOC (RMSE = 0.02), clay (RMSE = 0.32), and silt (RMSE = 0.10), whereas stepwise multiple linear regression performed better than SoLIM and ordinary kriging for predicting sand content (RSME = 0.11). Ordinary kriging had the narrowest 95% confidence interval while stepwise multiple linear regression had, the widest. From a pedological standpoint, SoLIM conformed better to the soil forming factors model than ordinary kriging and had a narrower confidence interval compared to stepwise multiple linear regression. In the third study, rules generated from the map legend and map unit descriptions were used to generate a soil class map. Information about soil distribution and parent material from the map unit polygon descriptions were combined with six terrain attributes, to generate a disaggregated fuzzy soil class map. The terrain attributes were multiresolution ridgetop flatness (MRRTF), multiresolution valley bottom flatness (MRVBF), topographic wetness index (TWI), topographic position index (TPI), planform curvature, and profile curvature. The final result was a soil class map with a spatial resolution of 30 m, an overall accuracy of 58% and a Kappa coefficient of 0.54. Motivated by the wealth of soil agronomic information generated by this study, we successfully tested the feasibility of delivering this information in rural western Kenya using the cell phone-based Soil Explorer app (https://soilexplorer.net/). This study demonstrates that legacy soil data can play a critical role in providing sustainable solutions to some of the most pressing agronomic challenges currently facing Kenya and most African countries.


Purdue Center for Global Food Security


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Agronomy

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Darrell G. Schulze

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. James J. Camberato

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Jie J. Shan

Additional Committee Member 4

Dr. Margaret W. Gitau

Additional Committee Member 5

Dr. Zamir Libohova