Spectral Soil Analysis and Household Surveys

LSMS Guidebook

Issued on

This Guidebook is intended to be a reference for survey practitioners looking for guidance on integrating soil health testing in household and farm surveys. The role of soil in agrarian societies is unquestionable, yet the complex nature of soil makes it much more challenging to measure than agricultural inputs such as fertilizers or pesticides. Historically, household surveys either include subjective questions of farmer assessment or rely on national-level soil maps to control for land quality, if anything at all. Recent scientific advances in laboratory soil analysis—via spectral soil testing—have opened the door to more rapid, cost-effective objective measurement of soil health in household surveys. This Guidebook explores the nascent possibility of integrating plot-level soil testing in household surveys through a presentation of results comparing various soil assessment methods and a step-by-step guide for practical implementation.


  • Sydney Gourlay
  • Ermias Aynekulu
  • Calogero Carletto
  • Keith Shepherd