Agricultural Services Laboratory

Agricultural Services Laboratory

The Agricultural Services Laboratory, which is located at the Agriculture Research and Innovation Hub at Għammieri (Marsa), was set up more than 40 years ago to offer a service to the farming community.  In 2020-2021, the laboratory was restructured in order to improve the service being provided due to the growing demand for soil and irrigation water testing. 

Most of the soil samples are tested due to obligations of European Union schemes, including the Measure for the Implementation of a Soil Management and Conservation Plan on a Parcel (AECM5 / AECC5), which involves the testing of organic matter in soil.  Apart from this, tests are also carried out for the determination of NPK in soil, which results are used by the farmers for the application of fertilizers, according to the fertilizer plan. This plan is a legal obligation intended to prevent the excess application of fertilizers, thus protecting the groundwater from pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources. In addition, such good practice assists farmers to adequately plan and apply fertilizers with economic benefits.

The Agricultural Services Laboratory is continuously investing in new equipment to increase its testing capacity and continuously improve the service being provided to the farming community.  Therefore, through this restructured laboratory, the Ministry will continue to help farmers face production challenges in order to produce quality products, as well as to comply with environmental obligations.

Services- Soil & Water Testing


Soil Testing​


Soil tests which are currently carried out at the Agricultural Services Laboratory include:-
  • pH
  • Electrical conductivity
  • Sodium (soluble)
  • Chloride (soluble)
  • Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen​
  • Nitrate-N
  • Potassium (soluble)
  • Phosphorus, Olsen (available)
  • Moisture / Dry Matter
  • Organic Carbon (Walkley & Black)
  • Organic Matter (Loss on ignition)
 
 

​Water Testing

  • pH
  • Electrical conductivity
  • Sodium 
  • Chloride 
  • Nitrate-N
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus, Olsen (orthophosphate)



Pre-treatment of soil samples prior to testing



Soil samples dried in oven at 40⁰C 
Soil samples dried in oven at 40⁰C


 
Soil samples sieved (2mm sieve)
Soil samples sieved (2mm sieve)

Soil samples ground to fine powder (mortar & pestle)
Soil samples ground to fine powder (mortar & pestle)




Determination of soil organic matter by loss on ignition

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Crucibles with ground soil samples in muffle furnace  
Crucibles with ground soil samples in muffle furnace 




Determination of major nutrients in soil


Filtration of soil extracts for determination of major nutrients. 
Filtration of soil extracts for determination of major nutrients.



Determination of available phosphorus in soil (Olsen method) 
 Determination of available phosphorus in soil (Olsen method)
 
 
 
 
 

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