Global Soil Partnership

Thailand’s testing kits empower farmers to monitor the state of their soils

Getting the balance right: regulating soil pH values to improve agricultural production


The Global Soil Partnership’s (GSP) Soil Doctors Programme is upgrading the soil testing kits that are part of the Programme's educational materials thanks to a donation from the government of Thailand.  

Earlier this month, Thailand donated 1,000 soil pH testing kits to the GSP to be distributed to farmers who are participating in the Programme, which currently spans Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Colombia, the Gambia, and Mexico.  

Other countries will be selected to engage over the course of 2022 so that the Programme can enhance its’ capacities and extend the reach of sustainable soil management (SSM) to different regions around the world. 

The Soil Doctors Programme started in Thailand in 1995 and is now being extended globally through the GSP. The Thai government has supported a number of the GSP’s initiatives over the past ten years and is committed to soil health and SSM. 

The late King of Thailand, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej was a passionate and recognised soil scientist, and the UN’s World Soil Day (WSD) – celebrated every year on 5 December – is held in his name. 

“The Soil Doctors Programme's soil kits are an educational tool aimed at giving farmers the option of translating their understanding of soil into practical and scientific knowledge,” said the GSP’s Soil Management Specialist, Silvia Pioli. 

“They can adapt management practices to soil pH values to make sure nutrients are available in their soils. They can then share this knowledge to other farmers as part of the Programme’s farmer-to-farmer training process,” added Pioli. 

Discovering new dimensions  

The desirable pH range for optimum plant growth varies from crop-to-crop. Some crops grow best under slightly acidic conditions while others thrive in more alkaline landscapes. 

Having a good understanding of soil characteristics and crop requirements is vital to apply the right management practices, including those aimed at adjusting soil pH ranges for optimum performance. 

The GSP’s Carolina Olivera Sanchez explains: “The soil pH kits will give farming groups real-time information on the pH scales of their soils so that they can apply the knowledge acquired through the Programme.”  

In addition to the pH kits, farmers will also be offered training to assess soil’s physical, chemical and biological properties, along with other educational materials such as posters and field exercises. Having a qualitative evaluation of soil properties will allow them to adopt thebest management practices for food production. 

Since its’ outset in 2012, the GSP has set out to stimulate SSM and now aims to transmit knowledge to farmers so that they can play their part in guaranteeing healthy and productive soils while safeguarding ecosystems.