FAO SOILS PORTAL

Soil Laboratory References

A lab technician testing and registering data collected on soil samples at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania

It is generally accepted that the quality of the output of laboratories strongly depends on the quality of the organization of the work, not only at the level of execution of the analysis but also at management level. To achieve optimal performance, the concept of "Good Laboratory Practice" (GLP) was developed and has been practiced now for quite some time by a number of categories of laboratories where the quality of the work is of vital importance, e.g. in the fields of food, medicine, toxicology, pollution, etc. Implementation of GLP in soil and plant analytical laboratories in a consequent manner has not been done on a large scale yet, particularly not in developing countries, but it seems to be the only way to significantly and structurally improve the laboratory performance.

To assist soil and plant laboratories with the mentioned constraints, ISRIC, with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), developed practical guidelines for effective quality management. Emphasis was placed on achieving an improvement of performance by adopting a limited number of relatively simple rules and inexpensive measures based on the principles of Good Laboratory Practice. The many examples included in these guidelines facilitate the adaptation and adoption of specific procedures.

The purpose of the Soil Survey Field and Laboratory Methods Manual is to serve as a standard reference in the description of site and soils sampling strategies and assessment techniques and provide detailed method descriptions for the collection and analysis of soil, biological, water, and plant samples in the field or field-office setting. This manual is intended to be a tool in the development of a long-term analytical database by which research and other investigative studies can be more directionally applied to onsite technologies to improve and enhance land productivity and sustainability.