Global Soil Partnership

Launch of the GLOSOLAN proficiency test 2021-2022

The Global Soil Laboratory Network (GLOSOLAN) was established in 2017 to strengthen the capacities of soil laboratory analysis and to respond to the need to harmonize soil data. 



The harmonization of methods, units, data, and information is critical to: (1) provide reliable information that can be compared between countries and projects; (2) facilitate the generation of new harmonized soil data sets; and (3) support evidence-based decision-making for sustainable soil management (SSM).

The use of quality control procedures plays a crucial role in reaching these objectives. Through the organization and promotion of national, regional, and global external quality control exercises – also called “proficiency testing” (PT) – the GLOSOLAN contributes to the assessment and monitoring of the performance of its’ member laboratories in countries around the world. It verifies the quality of the data provided by soil laboratories to end users such as farmers and decision-makers.

In 2018, GLOSOLAN organized two regional PTs in Asia and Latin America involving the national reference laboratories in those regions. Thereafter, in 2019, a global PT was carried out through the participation of over 80 laboratories worldwide. In 2021, the GLOSOLAN began organizing a global PT with the support of the Inorganic Geochemistry team at British Geological Survey (BGS) in the United Kingdom, the University of Eldoret in Kenya, and the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) in France.

280 sets consisting of ten soil samples were prepared and shipped to some 240 laboratories in 109 countries that are registered with the GLOSOLAN and that expressed interest in participating. 

Plan of action for 2022 

The global PT 2022 focuses on the analysis of soil organic carbon (SOC), soil available phosphorus and total nitrogen. PT results will add to the discussion on climate change initiated at the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021, and support countries in reporting on the Sustainable Developing Goals (SDGs) by assessing the quality of soil laboratory data.

To facilitate the acquisition of data, ensure confidentiality, reduce the errors caused by data entry, and to speed up the statistical analysis of data, the Network invested in an online platform for the submission of PT results. 

The platform is being used for the first time by laboratories participating in the GLOSOLAN’s PT 2022. They will receive a unique identification code together with the PT samples. Laboratories participating in the GLOSOLAN’s PT 2022 also receive FAO/GSP branded laboratory coats and safety glasses as part of the GLOSOLAN’s efforts to improve health and safety in soil laboratories.

The organization and participation in the global PTs, organized by the Network, creates an incentive for countries and laboratories to downscale this activity as the GLOSOLAN does not currently have the capacity to allow all its’ members – numbering approximately 800 – to participate in global PTs.

National reference laboratories in each country are invited to join global PTs to assess their proficiency in soil analysis, receive training on how to organize a PT, process laboratory results, and organize national or regional PTs.

More information on the GLOSOLAN’s activities on internal and external quality control procedures can be found on the Network's QA/QC webpage.