Global Soil Partnership

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

GLOSOLAN globally harmonizes standard operating procedures (SOPs) and make them available online - to all users - for FREE. All our SOPs are compiled in the GLOSOLAN’s Best practice manual, an online document structured as a flexible compendium of volumes to be published as soon as ready.

SOPs offer step-by-step instructions on how to perform laboratory analyses. SOPs are a critical component in ensuring the replicability of a measurement and the credibility and traceability of data. They are so important to be the first thing to look at in case of errors in the measurement or variable results in internal and external quality control exercises.

Before investing in new equipment, make sure that your staff is well trained and that SOPs are implemented! SOPs go hand-in-hand with the execution of internal and external quality control exercises.


Why is GLOSOLAN harmonizing SOPs? And why is it making them available online for free?

Why is GLOSOLAN harmonizing SOPs? And why is it making them available online for free?

Unfortunately, most of the SOPs issued by authoritative bodies are not available for free and can be very expensive. This seriously can hamper the possibility of many laboratories, particularly those from developing countries, to produce reliable data and to emerge at the international level. Still, it is important to remember that decision making, including the reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals and other international commitments, relies on the availability of consistent interoperable data.

To assist in overcoming these obstacles and promote the harmonization of global soil laboratory data, GLOSOLAN is producing harmonized SOPs, which are compiled in the GLOSOLAN’s Best practice manual. The manual is the result of a joint effort between the Global Soil Partnership, FAO and laboratories registered in GLOSOLAN. Routine procedures shared by laboratories with GLOSOLAN are harmonized and published online for free. All GLOSOLAN partners and laboratories are given the opportunity to take a leading role in the production of the SOPs and manual.

Attention! Freely available material does not mean low quality material. The quality of a standard depends on the number of people that participated in its preparation (baseline data) and the number of its final users. GLOSOLAN standards rely on information submitted by laboratories from all around the world. A download tracking system helps the network monitoring the number of users of each GLOSOLAN document.

How does GLOSOLAN decide what SOPs to harmonize?

How does GLOSOLAN decide what SOPs to harmonize?

The SOPs to harmonize are decided upon the number of countries and laboratories using a specific method. Priority is given to the methods most commonly used worldwide.

At its 2nd meeting in 2018 (see report), GLOSOLAN agreed on a 10 years’ work plan on the SOPs to harmonize that is currently used as a baseline for decision making. In this regard, every year, registered laboratories in GLOSOLAN discuss the SOPs to harmonize at their Regional Soil Laboratory Network meetings. Ultimately, regional positions are discussed at the GLOSOLAN meeting (every year in October/November) where the final decision on the SOPs to harmonize is made.

How are GLOSOLAN SOPs harmonized?

How are GLOSOLAN SOPs harmonized?

Once GLOSOLAN agree on the SOPs to harmonize, regional leaders are identified. Regional leaders are experts on specific methods that are tasked to:

  • Prepare the matrix for collecting information on the procedure used by each laboratory;
  • Harmonize the information received at the regional level first and at the global level later;
  • Draft the SOPs as per the Template for reporting GLOSOLAN SOPs;
  • Implement the changes suggested during the review phase;
  • Finalize the SOP.

Per each SOP a global leader is also identified: this is the expert that takes overall responsibility over the harmonization of the SOP.

The whole process is facilitated by the GLOSOLAN coordinator that:

  • Ensures that the work of each working group proceed smoothly;
  • Ensure that deadlines are respected;
  • Distribute the harmonization matrix among registered laboratories in GLOSOLAN;
  • Collect and compile the information submitted by laboratories through the matrixes and make them anonymous before sending them to the working group;
  • Coordinate the SOPs revision and endorsement processes;
  • Coordinate the translation of the SOPs in different languages.

GLOSOLAN SOPs will be revised on a regular basis or whenever necessary.

All laboratories registered in GLOSOLAN have the opportunity to contribute to the preparation of the GLOSOLAN SOPs. Not a member yet? See How can I register my laboratory in GLOSOLAN.

If I register my laboratory in GLOSOLAN, do I have to use GLOSOLAN SOPs?

If I register my laboratory in GLOSOLAN, do I have to use GLOSOLAN SOPs?

The use of GLOSOLAN SOPs is encouraged but not compulsory. Countries that cannot implement GLOSOLAN SOPs are kindly invited to develop transfer functions to use when submitting data to the UN or exchange information with other countries.

 

 


Chapter 1: Site characterization, sampling and sample pre-treatment

Chapter 1: Site characterization, sampling and sample pre-treatment

 

Volume 1.1 How to collect a soil sample for soil nutrient assessment: site collection and sampling (soon available)

Volume 1.2 Generic characterization of sites and samples (soon available)

Chapter 2: Soil chemical analysis

Chapter 2: Soil chemical analysis

 

Volume 2.1 pH (soon available)

Volume 2.2  Carbon 

Volume 2.3 Phosphorous (soon available)

Volume 2.4 Potassium (soon available)

Volume 2.5 Nitrogen (soon available)

Volume 2.6 Exchangeable cations and CEC (soon available)

Volume 2.7 Extractable microelements (soon available)

Volume 2.8 Trace and major element analyses (soon available)

Volume 2.9 Gypsum (soon available)

Volume 2.10 Electrical conductivity and total soluble salt content (soon available)

Volume 2.11 Soluble sulfate and chloride analysis (soon available)

Volume 2.12 Special analysis for peats, mineral and organic soils, agriculture and forest (soon available)

Chapter 3: Soil physical analysis

Chapter 3: Soil physical analysis

 

Volume 3.1 Bulk density (soon available)

Volume 3.2 Coarse fragments (soon available)

Volume 3.3 Particle-size distribution (soon available)

Volume 3.4 Water retention curve (soon available)

Volume 3.5 Porosity (soon available)

Volume 3.6 Hydraulic conductivity function (soon available)

Volume 3.7 Aggregate stability (soon available)

Volume 3.8 Moisture content (soon available)

Chapter 4: Soil biological analysis

Chapter 4: Soil biological analysis

 

Volume 4.1 Microbial biomass (soon available)

Volume 4.2 Soil Respiration (soon available)

Volume 4.3 Enzyme activity (soon available)

Volume 4.4 Microbial identification (soon available)

Chapter 5: Soil contaminants

Chapter 5: Soil contaminants

Soon available

Chapter 6: Data quality, management and validation

Chapter 6: Data quality, management and validation

Volume 6.1 Data quality requirements (soon available)

Volume 6.2 Data management and validation (soon available)

Chapter 7: Harmonization and correlation factors

Chapter 7: Harmonization and correlation factors

All methods harmonized by GLOSOLAN are to be used on a voluntary basis. To allow comparability between data produced using different methods (for those laboratories unable to implement GLOSOLAN’s SOPs), GLOSOLAN will develop conversion factors.

Chapter 8: Data processing: soil functions, classification and statistics

Chapter 8: Data processing: soil functions, classification and statistics

Soon available

Chapter 9: Standards or maximum allowed levels of nutrients – interpretation and recommendations

Chapter 9: Standards or maximum allowed levels of nutrients – interpretation and recommendations

Soon available 

Chapter 10: Security in the laboratory

Chapter 10: Security in the laboratory

Soon available 

Chapter 11: Good Laboratory Practices