Launch of the National Network of Soil Laboratories of Chile

With the assistance of international authorities, representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and local and regional authorities, and heads of laboratories in the country, from Copiapó to Aysén, the official launch of the National Network of Soil Laboratories of Chile took place today, an important milestone of coordination and organization that began in 2018 when the Department of Soils and Natural Resources, of the Faculty of Agronomy of the University of Concepción, participated as a Reference Laboratory representing Chile and the University in the establishment of the Latin American Network of Laboratories of Soils (LATSOLAN).

This activity is part of the actions of the World Alliance for Soil (AMS)-FAO, which aims to harmonize analysis methods, measures and indicators for sustainable management and protection of soil resources, participation that occurs at the invitation of Rodrigo Osorio, National Coordinator of the Program for the Recovery of Degraded Soils and National Focal Point of the World Alliance for Soil – FAO, located in the SAG, Ministry of Agriculture.

The National Network of Soil Laboratories of Chile will coordinate activities of the area with what is carried out at a Latin American and global level, as indicated by the academician of the Department of Soils and Natural Resources of Agronomy UdeC, Dr. Erick Zagal. “It is essential that all soil laboratories in Chile interact with each other, in the development of their capacities in soil analysis, overcoming common challenges and helping each other. In this way, the processes of harmonization of soil analysis at the national level will be facilitated; and the transfer of the knowledge acquired by the laboratories participating in GLOSOLAN activities at the national level and for sustainable soil management”.

Regarding the impact and scope that this new laboratory will have, the Rector of the UdeC, Dr. Carlos Saavedra, said that "this is essential for our country and for the challenges from the point of view of the development of agri-food productive capacity, since it is required of the analysis of the conditions in which it is operating and updating those conditions. Having a national characterization network is key to these matters and to the challenges that Chile has set itself as an agri-food power and within a framework of sustainable agriculture.”

One of the responsibilities of acting as a reference laboratory means coordinating activities for the integration of Chilean laboratories in regional and global networks, an axis that was highlighted by Lucrezia Caon, coordinator of the FAO World Network of Soil Laboratories, and by the Undersecretary of Agriculture, José Guajardo, “this network is very relevant for the activity of the Ministry of Agriculture and at a global level for the organizations that deal with the issue of natural resources. We are facing a situation of climate change and we are also very concerned about food security and sovereignty, and in this context, this network provides assurance that all the studios will be standardized in such a way that they can serve nationally and internationally.”

Along the same lines, the Deputy Regional Director of the SAG of Ñuble, Roberto Ferrada, added that "this issue of the national network of laboratories is derived through the global alliance for soil protection that seeks to give sustainability to the soil resource and a sustainability not only from the productive point of view, but also from environmental protection”.

For his part, Rodrigo Osorio, National Coordinator of the SIRSD-S Program and National Focal Point of the Global Alliance for Soil – FAO. An agronomist from the SAG Renewable Natural Resources Protection Division, he emphasized that “all laboratories at the national level are going to generate a homogeneous methodology to produce reliable and secure information with which guidelines can be established regarding public policies, especially in sustainable land management”.

At the launch ceremony, the presentation made by María de Los Ángeles Sepúlveda, who referred to the importance of this National Network of Soil Laboratories of Chile, stood out. “The advances that we can make, together, will allow us to support national decision-making for this sustainable management. Integrating ourselves under the GLOSOLAN line of work will allow us to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, in addition to generating harmonized data to contribute to the evaluation and monitoring of degraded soils and/or affected by climate change and other threats that affect our food security.

The activity culminated with a keynote speech by Miriam Ostinelli, president of the Global Network of Soil Laboratories (GLOSOLAN, for its acronym in English), who belongs to the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA, Argentina); on “Tools for quality control in an agricultural laboratory. Internal control samples”; and later there were talks related to the Harmonization of Methodologies for Chemical and Biological Analysis, and an interlaboratory field day of physical parameters, by the professor, Dr. Marco Sandoval Estrada.

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