Rapid Soil Fertility Research Institute, Lahore

Introduction

Laboratory plays vital role in determining the nutrient status of a soil and thus recommends the use of proper fertilizer in kind and quantity to boost up the yields of agricultural crops. Till 1967, no laboratory was in operation exclusively to look-after the interest of the farmers in the maintenance of their soils fertility. The government realizing the situation, commissioned first soil fertility laboratory, in late 1967, by appointing the Agricultural Chemist (Soil Fertility) at Lyallpur (Now Faisalabad). This Laboratory was made responsible to look-after the interest of farming community of only Faisalabad division, beside other research activities. The sphere of activity of this laboratory remained spread up to the whole of the Punjab province, but later on with the establishment of similar laboratories at Rawalpindi (1969), Multan (1973), Lahore, Bahawalpur (1974), D. G. Khan (1996), Sargodha (2001) and Gujranwala (2002), the role of the laboratory confined to the Faisalabad Division only. Though the jurisdiction of the lab has been confined to one division but its role and responsibility has been increased tremendously. This laboratory is providing regulatory fertilizer analytical services under Fertilizer Control Order, 1973 besides advisory services to the farmers, research & teaching institutions regarding soil, water, fertilizer and plant analysis on request.
The fertility of the soils of a country is an indication of her crop production potential and yield gradient. The centuries long exhaustion of essential nutrients used up for crop productions have depleted the soil to such an extent that the increased return cannot be realized without addition of different balanced fertilizer nutrients. Even the yield levels already attained cannot be maintained without it. The fertile lands of Pakistan are ready to feed a population twice that of current Pakistan however, it needs proper management to sustain its health and fertility status. The terms ''soil health'' or ''soil quality'' as applied to agro-ecosystems refer to the ability of soil to support and sustain crop growth while maintaining environmental quality. Management intended to improve soil health involves creatively combining a number of practices that enhance the soil's biological, chemical, and physical suitability for crop production. Therefore, the knowledge of nutrient status of a soil is essential to assess the optimum quantity of fertilizer and the best management practices responsible for high yield.
The Punjab Fertilizers (Control) Order, 1973 (Amended) was promulgated by Govt. of the Punjab under provisions of the Punjab Essential Articles (Control) Act, 1973. In the year 2000, on the inclination of major and minor companies towards fertilizer production and marketing, the fertilizer industry flourished rapidly and mushroom growth of indigenous companies was found. Most of these companies/entrepreneurs taken up this activity just for the sake of only business interest and farmer interest were often ignored. For the sake of growth of this industry, the department adapts some lenient view and tried to encourage the industry at this initial stage. Some negative elements exploited the situation and resultantly various useless, undesired and misleading fertilizer products were offered abundantly for sale in the market. Now prevalence of these products emerged as a challenge to the Department to screen out the potential fertilizer products. 
It will help to control the fertilizer adulteration in the Punjab and ultimately reduce the cost of production. Quality fertilizers will surly increase the crops yield and reduce the pollution problems. The quality of agriculture product has prime importance in international market and for export purposes. To maintain quality, the vegetable, grain and fruit should be free from excessive fertilizer (like nitrate content) and heavy metals. The accreditation of the lab for ISO 17025 will provide the analytical facilities of international standards to the government and other stakeholders. 
Scope:
At present five tests N, P, K, Zn and Boron have got accredited.
Following 9 labs have got accreditation for ISO-17025
  1. Soil and Water Testing Laboratory, Faisalabad.
  2. Soil and Water Testing Laboratory, Lahore. 
  3. Soil and Water Testing Laboratory, Rawalpindi.
  4. Soil and Water Testing Laboratory, Multan.
  5. Soil and Water Testing Laboratory, Bahawalpur.
  6. Soil and Water Testing Laboratory, Sargodha.
  7. Soil and Water Testing Laboratory, Gujranwala.
  8. Soil and Water Testing Laboratory, D.G. Khan.
  9. Provincial Reference Fertilizer Testing Laboratory, Raiwind, Lahore 
 

Focal Person:

 
Name: Dr. Muhammad Shakar
Designation: Assistant Soil Fertility Officer
Contact #: 0342-6604707