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The Laboratory Services Division: Your Partner To A Better Farming Enterprise

By Cecilia B. Orlanes – February 20, 2012



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Soil analysis has been a valuable tool for agricultural production. It has served as the basis for improved fertilization as well as adoption of many other production practices by farmers.

The Laboratory Services Division is committed in many ways to give emphasis on importance of sufficiently broad support to farming communities by conducting information dissemination and trainings/seminars to farmers and technicians regarding the importance of the services offered. There is an increasing awareness and demand on the importance of the soil and water analysis as it relates to the issues and concerns in addressing the challenges of climate change, biodiversity, and land degradation. Thus, the partnership and networking has expanded to include the academe, LGUs, the public and private clientele among others from both local and international institutions.

This necessitates the upgrading of Laboratory equipment and facilities to consider more advance application on top routinary analysis. Efforts were made to improve its facilities and equipment with GEF funding under Philippines Climate Change Adaptation Project.

Soil and Water Chemical Analysis

Many farmers cultivate their farms without ever testing their soil. They are fortunate if their soil is not deficient or toxic in nutrients, neither too acid nor too alkaline. If their crops do not seem to be growing well, a soil test is the best starting point for putting things right and keen growers have their soil tested routinely each year. Professional soil testing is the most accurate for macro and micronutrients and this is conducted in a soils laboratory like the Bureau of Soils and Water Management. Recent developments in soil analysis now make it possible to assess the fertility status of soils, including problem soils like salt-affected soils.

Another commodity that is important in farming is water for irrigation. There are many criteria in assessing water quality depending on the purpose for which it will be used. It is the amount and types of salts present that will determine the suitability of water for its intended use. All natural waters contain dissolved mineral substances collectively known as salts which can have detrimental effects on plants if present in large quantities. For irrigation waters, the usual criteria include salinity, sodicity (sodium content) and element toxicities.

Soil Physical Analysis

The analysis for physical properties of soil has been classically known as a tool in the construction industry. However, through years of intensive research on its application in agriculture, it has become important in agricultural land management.

In BSWM, soil physical analysis is geared towards optimum agricultural production by focusing on its necessity to crop production. Soil samples from the field are analyzed according to texture, structure, permeability, bulk density and water retention. From laboratory data, the distinct properties of each soil class are known. These are fundamental to fertilizer application, ease of cultivation, irrigation and construction of earth dams.

For instance, physical properties such as texture and structure have profound effects on plant growth and on all kinds of soil manipulations and use. These effects in turn influence total non-solid pore space as well as pore size thereby imparting water and air relationship.

The summary of both land and soil characteristics serves as guide to soil classification that can assist in the land evaluation and management.

Biological Production

Legume inoculants increase grain legume yields through biological nitrogen fixation. They reduce the need for the application of N fertilizers and increase the grain yield and quality of crops.

The BSWM is mandated to produce and conduct quality tests on various legume inoculants in order to help farmers increase their production.

In line with the increasing awareness on biotechnology, production of Compost Fungus Activator (CFA) Trichoderma harzianum, for rapid composting was established. Compared with the traditional method of composting which takes about three months, the use of the CFA accelerates the process in just three to four weeks.

Soil Test Kit

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The use of the Soil Test Kit (STK) will bring soil testing services right in the farm. Before the STK was introduced in the field, farmers have to bring their soil samples to a soil laboratory normally located in the capital town of a province. Experience shows that it takes at least two (2) weeks before the farmer get his fertilizer recommendation. The time can be shortened and with the introduction of more kits in different farm areas, even farmers themselves can provide service to their fellow farmers.

The STK is an inexpensive, quick, handy and easy to use as soil testing tool. Results are obtained within an hour. It is therefore useful to farmers and extension workers to determine on the spot what kind and amount of fertilizer to use to a grown crop in a given farm.

The STK determines the pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. It is a qualitative type of testing and through color comparison, the deficiency or sufficiency of the element can be assessed.

Rapid Soil Test Kit for Soil Micro-Nutrients

Rapid Soil Test Kit (RSTK) for soil micronutrients is a simple, low cost and portable soil testing kit. These kits can be used by farmers and agricultural technicians in the field to identify quickly soil micro-nutrient problems that limit rice and other crop production. The RST also informs the user about the other new analysis required to ensure that location-specific fertilizers are recommended. The RST includes quick field analysis of Lime, Zinc, Calcium, Magnesium, Sulfur, Ammonium and Nitrate.

In conjunction with the regular Soil Test Kit (STK) that analyzes nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, the RST is expected to provide a more direct information about the adequacy and deficiency levels of both the major and minor soil nutrients. The information leads to a more precise fertilizer recommendation.

The Division conducts these analyses with accuracy through modern precision equipment. Its staff is updated on new technologies by undergoing much needed trainings, seminars and symposia. In coordination with other BSWM divisions, the Division makes a commitment towards greater farm productivity.

Services Offered

  1. Physico-chemical Analysis of Soil Samples
    • Soil Texture, Water Holding Capacity, Hydraulic Conductivity, Bulk Density, Moisture Retention, Sand Fraction, Atterberg Limit, Available P, Exchangeable Acids, Exchangeable Bases, CEC, Electrical Conductivity, pH, Organic Carbon/Matter, Total N, Ammoniacal N, Nitrate N, Trace Elements, Extractable Aluminum, Free Iron Oxide, Calcium Carbonate
  2. Chemical Analysis of Water Samples
    • pH, Electrical Conductivity, Bicarbonate, Carbonate, Sulfate, Chloride, Total N, Ammoniacal N, Nitrate N, Total P, K, Na, Ca, Mg and Trace Elements
  3. Assay of Fertilizers
    • Total N, Total P, Available P, Total K, pH, Moisture, Organic Carbon/ Matter, Calcium Carbonate, Ca, Mg, Na, S, Cl and Trace Elements
  4. Chemical Analysis of Plant Tissue
    • N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Na Crude Silica, Sulfate, Electrical Conductivity, Moisture Content and Trace Elements
  5. Microbial Analysis of Soil Samples
    • Rhizobia, Bacteria and Fungi

Available for Sale

  1. Legume Inoculants/Trichoderma
  2. Soil Test Kits - for N, P, K and pH
  3. Rapid Soil Test - for Ca, Mg, Zn, Fe, and S

Telephone Number: (02)923-0492
Fax Number: (02)923-0456

BSWM, SRDC Bldg., Elliptical Road, Corner Visayas
Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City





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