Without tests, crop nutrition is best guess. Plant and soil testing guide best practice on the farm. But who guides best practice in the lab?
What is ASPAC?
The Australasian Soil and Plant Analysis Council (ASPAC) has an inter-
laboratory proficiency program (ILPP). Certification under this program means a lab can get consistent test results. This gives you confidence that your test results are as accurate as possible.
How it works
ASPAC sends a lab blind soil and plant tissue samples. The lab tests these samples for a series of specified methods. Over three testing rounds, the lab needs to show their results fall within a certain range. At the end of annual testing, labs receive a certificate that lists the methods they are ASPAC certified for. Visit the ASPAC website to find labs certified for particular tests.
ASPAC certification does not cover:
- sample preparation – ASPAC sends the samples pre-prepped for testing
- the lab as a whole. Only the tests the lab performs that meet ASPAC criteria get certified.
The National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) covers broader lab quality such as instrument checks and staff training.
ASPAC and Fertcare
The Fertcare® Accredited Advisors (FAA) program assesses an advisor’s ability to give soil management, crop nutrition, and fertilizer advice. The FAA logo signifies that the advice is based on soil and plant testing of a high standard.
Fertcare® accredited advisors must use a lab certified in at least:
- 12 soil analytes. At least four must be pH, extractable phosphate (e.g. Colwell P), organic carbon, nitrate-N or exchangeable K
- 10 plant analytes. N, P, and K are compulsory.
Download a list of FAAs here. All advisors should choose a lab with a range of ASPAC certified tests. Without reliable testing, growers may make poor fertiliser decisions.