Available soil phosphate test kit field trials (AHDB/BBSRC net-zero partnership)



Phosphorus (P) fertilisers are vital to current agricultural production. However, recommending optimal quantities to apply to soils is a major challenge.

Currently, this is done by taking a bulked soil sample that is sent to specialist laboratories for analysis, with results and recommendations for application rates returned after several days.

The associated delay and expense can put off farmers. Additionally, this service is either not available or beyond the economic means of many farmers in many countries.

Rothamsted Research has developed a prototype P field test kit that is robust, rapid and low-cost.


The primary aim of this project was to carry out user-friendliness tests of the prototype kit to:

  • Enable modifications and improvement of the procedure, kit design and user instructions
  • Provide evidence of the interest and usability of the field kit prior to subsequent activities to make the kit available to end-users

Key findings and conclusions

Most users would consider using the kit again.

This work identified several improvements to improve the user-friendliness of the kit, including:

  • Modifications to the user guide
  • Inclusion of additional equipment
  • Modification of the filtering system to cope with more soil types 

Practical outputs and outcomes

We are now be able to improve several aspects of the kit and provide feedback to potential commercialisation partners on the preliminary results of our trial.

A commercially available kit would enable widespread, independent, rapid and accurate soil testing linked to existing P fertiliser recommendations.

Ultimately, this will help farmers and land managers make their own measurements and recommendations for P fertiliser applications.


Following modification of the kit, we hope to move towards commercialisation to make the soil test kit widely available to end-users (primarily, agronomists, farmers and environmental researchers).

AHDB/BBSRC net-zero partnership

*This project was part of an AHDB/BBSRC partnership that aimed to support the agricultural transition to net zero. Project costs were met through BBSRC’s Farm Sustainability Fund. The partnership supported ten projects that address priorities identified by farmers, including ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon storage.

Cereals & Oilseeds
Project code:
06 December 2021 - 06 March 2022
AHDB sector cost:
Total project value:
£42,854 (£18,799)*
Project leader:
Rothamsted Research – North Wyke (Martin Blackwell)


PR640-01 Final report AHDB-BBSRC Farm Sustainability Fund (Blackwell)

About this project