Workshop Content

Workshop 01

Digging Deep

Assessing depth-explicit soil features using percussion drilling.

Soil degradation in tropical landscapes can leave a lasting effect on soil properties that can perpetuate nutrient cycling, plant growth, and severely impact the capacity of soils to store carbon. Assessment techniques that analyse the surface properties of soils thereby only address a small part of the soil column.

In this workshop you will learn about the spatial diversity of soils as we go deeper, their carrying capacity of carbon and different nutrients and how land-use changes can impact different soil properties.

– Understanding soil horizons
– What history can teach us about current soil structure?
– The role of land use (agricultural versus forest)
– Site selection (topography, representation)
– Using percussion drilling equipment
– Soil core assessment and processing


Course Instructors
Prof. Dr. Sebastian Doetterl, Dr. Laurent Kidinda, Dr. Mary Ekyaligonza

Workshop 02

Lighting Up Soils

Using low-cost infrared spectroscopy to analyze soils.

The lack of specific chemicals and analytical instrumentation in low-income countries makes traditional wet chemistry analyses expensive, if not impossible. In the last decades, infrared (IR) spectroscopy has proven to be a fast and cost-effective method to analyse the properties of soils which allows high spatial coverage.

In this workshop you’ll learn how to prepare samples for NIR-MIR spectroscopic analysis, to scan them and then how we can interpret the findings.

– Introduction to spectral analysis (uses, limitations, advantages)
– Preparing soil samples for spectral analysis
– Scanning soils using a Bruker Alpha Spectrometer
– Interpreting soil spectral signatures (What can we see, what can’t we?)
– Statistical analysis of spectral data


Course Instructors
Msc. Laura Summerauer, Dr. Zampela Pittaki

Workshop 03

Plants And Soil Through New Eyes

Remote and proximal sensing for vegetation monitoring and soil erosion modelling

Spaceborne and proximal sensing have made ground-breaking contributions to understanding ecosystem change and dynamics. For the target area of the workshop around Fort Portal, an exciting database of freely available imagery derived from Landsat and Sentinel satellite missions and our own unmanned aerial vehicle missions from past projects are available. These data offer critically important insight on ecosystem processes that can be used as model input data also for regions with limited infrastructure. One of the main threats for food security in the study region is soil erosion, which calls for soil erosion predictions based on remote and proximal sensing data.

In this workshop you will learn how to access, process, analyse, and interpret freely available spaceborne and proximally sensed data and how to implement this information in a soil erosion model for western Uganda. Specifically:

– Remote and proximal sensing techniques for vegetation and soil assessments.
– Differences in sensors and what they tell us.
– Processing different spatial and temporal explicit soil (cover) datasets.
– Implement datasets in a soil erosion model.


Course Instructors
Dr. Florian Wilken

Workshop 04

To Tree or Not To Tree?

Tropical forests are a key biome in the global carbon cycle, storing an estimated 40-50% of terrestrial vegetation carbon. In the vast majority of East Africa, montane forests represent a significantly higher-proportion of total forest cover when compared to lowland forests, with Uganda having nearly 20 times more (427,000 ha of montane forest, 18,000 ha of lowland forest). Since 1995, nearly 6500 ha of forest have been restored in Kibale Forest National Park using a combination of methods, including active and passive (natural) restoration.

As global awareness about the importance of forests as a tool for carbon sequestration grows, utilizing such unique, already-gained knowledge, is critical to understand best-practice approaches for similar forest landscapes. Therefore, the workshop seeks to present methodologies currently utilized for measuring the growth rates of the trees within the forest on a tree-by-tree and plot-by-plot basis. Using Field-Mapping equipment and software, each tree is geotagged, and diverse size measurements are recorded.

Course Instructors
Msc. Matt Cooper, Dr. Marjin Bauters

Workshop 05

Just a Load of Hot Air!

Measuring in-situ greenhouse gas fluxes across land-use systems

Despite the wide recognition that tropical soils under different land use systems represent both significant sources and sinks of climate-relevant greenhouse gases (GHGs), empirical studies based on in-situ field soil GHG measurements are still limited. Logistical challenges in setting up GHG flux measurement infrastructure in the tropics together with the lack of the necessary technical expertise to carry out accurate and reliable GHG measurements, largely explain why the tropics are still under-represented in global soil GHG budgets.

In this workshop therefore you’ll learn how different in-situ greenhouse gas measurements can be technically implemented and what we can infer from the findings.

– Why are soil GHG measurements important?
– Design in-situ field soil GHG measurements
– Design and install gas chambers that capture GHGs.
– Use an ultra-portable laser based GHG analyser.
– Calculate GHG fluxes from GHG concentrations using a demo dataset.


Course Instructors
Dr. Mana Gharun, Dr. Joseph Okello

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*Financial Assistance Available