Global Soil Partnership

Quality assurance (QA) / Quality control (QC)

Quality assurance (QA) focuses on the process of the analysis at the purpose of preventing and/or limiting the occurrence of errors in the measurement.

Quality control (QC) is a set of activities or techniques aiming to ensure that all quality requirements are being met. The continuous monitoring of laboratory operations and results is essential to decide whether the results are reliable enough to be released.

Quality control can be internal or external.

1. Internal quality control: set of procedure undertaken by laboratories to monitor their operations and results.

 

2. External quality control (also called “proficiency testing” or “inter-laboratory comparison”) is a periodic assessment of the performance of individual laboratories and groups of laboratories. The assessment is done by an independent testing body like GLOSOLAN through the distribution of typical materials for unsupervised analysis by the participants. Proficiency testing is used as a tool to asses and enhance standards of the analysis, and assist in the standardisation of soil analytical methods across laboratories leading to more reliable and interoperable soil data. Laboratories can use the results obtained in the PT to identify areas where improvements may need to occur.

   

GLOSOLAN Inter-laboratory comparison programme

All laboratories registered in GLOSOLAN are given the opportunity to participate in its inter-laboratory comparison programme for free. However, only truly committed laboratories can continuously participate due to the limited availability of samples and the high cost of the service for the Global Soil Partnership, FAO.

How does the GLOSOLAN inter-laboratory comparison programme work?

How does the GLOSOLAN inter-laboratory comparison programme work?

1. All laboratories registered in GLOSOLAN will receive an email about the upcoming launch of a new global or regional inter-laboratory comparison exercise. Interested laboratory are kindly asked to reply that email.
2. The GLOSOLAN coordinator will select the laboratories to participate in the inter-laboratory comparison exercise based on the number of soil samples available and in order to ensure that all countries have at least one laboratory participating in the exercise.
3. All laboratories participating in global or region inter-laboratory comparison exercises organized by GLOSOLAN will receive (by regular mail) a package containing:

  • General information on the origin of the samples and the content of the package
  • Phytosanitary certificate
  • FAO’s soil samples travelling documents
  • Instructions on how to handle and store the soil samples before doing the analysis
  • Instructions on how to submit the results of the analysis. Please note that all results should be submitted through the GLOSOLAN online platform. Once submitted, results cannot be revised!
  • The list of the analysis to do (soil parameters and methods to use)
  • Soil samples

4. Laboratories are kindly asked to submit the results of their analysis to GLOSOLAN before the given deadline.
5. All results will be made anonymous by the GLOSOLAN coordinator before being shared with GLOSOLAN experts for the statistical analyses.
6. Results are statistically analysis and the inter-laboratory comparison report is written and published online.
7. All participating laboratories will receive a certificate of participation and an individual feedback on their performance. See individual laboratory schedule reporting.

How can I participate to the GLOSOLAN inter-laboratory comparison programme?

How can I participate to the GLOSOLAN inter-laboratory comparison programme?

If you wish to participate in our inter-laboratory comparison programme the first thing you need to do is to register your laboratory in GLOSOLAN. See How can I register my laboratory in GLOSOLAN. This will allow you to receive information and updates on GLOSOLAN activities and opportunities.
Every year, the GLOSOLAN coordinator sends a communication about the organization of global and/or regional inter-laboratory comparison exercises to all registered laboratories. Interested laboratories are given the opportunity to participate by replying that email.
Please note that the number of laboratories able to participate in GLOSOLAN’s inter-laboratory comparison exercises depends on the number of soil samples available for shipment. Although GLOSOLAN is working to provide samples to as many laboratories as possible, we are currently unable to satisfy all laboratories registered in the network. In this regard, GLOSOLAN is building the capacity of National Reference Laboratories on the organization of national inter-laboratory comparisons. See What are the differences between National Reference and other registered soil laboratories?

How does GLOSOLAN identify “truly committed” laboratories?

How does GLOSOLAN identify “truly committed” laboratories?

A scoring system has been developed for the purpose of identifying committed laboratories and to exclude those that are not seriously committed, giving the opportunity to other laboratories to take part in the exercise. Details on the scoring system are available in the individual laboratory schedule reporting, a document GLOSOLAN sends to all laboratories participating in GLOSOLAN inter-laboratory comparison exercises for the purpose of providing each individual laboratory with a feedback on their performance. This document can then be used by each laboratory to review their laboratory practices and to monitor and improve their performance on the analysis of the soil parameters and methods tested.

Can I use the certificate of participation in GLOSOLAN’s inter-comparison exercises for certification or accreditation purposes?

Can I use the certificate of participation in GLOSOLAN’s inter-comparison exercises for certification or accreditation purposes?

No!

All laboratories participating in GLOSOLAN inter-laboratory comparison exercises receive a certificate of participation that DOES NOT certify the proficiency of laboratories in soil analysis. Therefore, it cannot be used to state that a laboratory is certified under GLOSOLAN or has a good proficiency in soil analysis.

GLOSOLAN is working to become a certification and accreditation body but it cannot be considered as such yet.

Where do the soil samples used in GLOSOLAN inter-laboratory comparison exercises come from?

Where do the soil samples used in GLOSOLAN inter-laboratory comparison exercises come from?

From all around the world, depending on the soil parameters GLOSOLAN wants to test laboratories on!

Interested laboratories may have the opportunity to provide samples to the GLOSOLAN inter-laboratory comparison programme. Becoming a GLOSOLAN soil sample provider does not only benefit GLOSOLAN but it also gives the possibility to the sample provider to have consensus values assigned to their samples allowing them to be considered as a reference material that may be used in Quality Control procedures. To apply for becoming a GLOSOLAN soil sample provider, please complete the form here and send an email to the [email protected] and to [email protected].

Soil samples should be prepared as per the General instructions on how to produce a sample for the GLOSOLAN PT

Qualified laboratories will receive further instructions on how GLOSOLAN samples should be prepared and shipped to FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy.

Key publications

Online tools

     GLOSOLAN submission platform (available soon)