Development of Quick Test Method for Soil pH, Nitrate, Phosphorus, and Potassium Combining Chemicals and Phone Cellular Application

Arief Hartono, Desi Nadalia, Dede Sulaeman


Conventional soil analyses are time-consuming; therefore, the soil quick test (QT) method is needed. This study was to assess the accuracy of soil pH, N-nitrate, available phosphorus (P), and exchangeable potassium (K) analysis determined by the QT method developed by Akvo and calibrated with standard laboratory methods. The field research collected 131 soil samples, collected from horticultural lands in 4 regencies within East Java-Indonesia, started from February to August 2017. Soil analysis measured were soil pH, N-nitrate, available P, exchangeable K, textures, organic C, and CEC. The colorimetric-based QT method was performed on the soil sample extracted by Mehlich 1, and the color was developed by dipping strip test paper in supporting chemical solutions. A smartphone camera was used for the reading, and the results were directly displayed on the smartphone screen. The QT method’s calibration models were created by stepwise multiple linear regression involving the correlated soil chemical properties. The values of calibrated QT method (i.e. soil pH, N-nitrate, and available P) showed significant correlations with the values from the laboratory. However, the results suggested that the QT method developed by Akvo could be used for nitrate due to having a relatively high correlation with that of standard laboratory. 


Analysis; Colorimetry; Correlation; Mehlich 1; Soil characteristics

Full Text:



Balai Penelitian Tanah. (2007). Perangkat uji tanah kering V.01. Bogor, ID: Balai Penelitian Tanah. Retrieved from PDF

Bamane, S. D., Bhojwani, V., Balkunde, P. L., Bhattacharya, M., Gupta, I., Mohapatra, A. K., … Singh, A. (2021). Smartphone-enabled field monitoring tool for rapid hexavalent chromium detection in water. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 413, 3455–3469. DOI

Black, C. A., Evans, D. D., White, J. L., Ensminger, L. E., Clark, F. E., & Dinauer, R. C. (1965). Methods of soil analysis: Part 1. Physical and mineralogical properties, including statistics of measurement and sampling. Madison, WI: American Society of Agronomy, Inc. DOI

Bray, R. H., & Kurtz, L. T. (1945). Determination of total, organic, and available forms of phosphorus in soils. Soil Science, 59(1), 39–46. DOI

Burt, R. (2004). Soil survey laboratory methods manual. Soil Survey Investigations Report No. 42 Version 4.0. Lincoln, Nebraska: Soil Survey Investigations USDA-NRCS. Retrieved from PDF

Darmawan, Kyuma, K., Saleh, A., Subagjo, H., Masunaga, T., & Wakatsuki, T. (2006). Effect of green revolution technology during the period 1970–2003 on sawah soil properties in Java, Indonesia: II. Changes in the chemical properties of soils. Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, 52(5), 645–653. DOI

Eren, E., Öksüz, Y., Karadağ, S., Özen, S., Gemici, Z., & Kızılkaya, R. (2014). Investigation of a novel soil analysis method in agricultural areas of Çarşamba plain for fertilizer recommendation. Eurasian Journal of Soil Science, 3(2), 123–130. DOI

Golicz, K., Hallett, S., Sakrabani, R., & Ghosh, J. (2020). Adapting smartphone app used in water testing, for soil nutrient analysis. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 175, 105532. DOI

Graham, E. R. (1948). Determination of soil organic matter by means of a photoelectric colorimeter. Soil Science, 65(2), 181–184. Retrieved from website

Hajek, B. F., Adams, F., & Cope Jr., J. T. (1972). Rapid determination of exchangeable bases, acidity, and base saturation for soil characterization. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 36(3), 436–438. DOI

Han, P., Dong, D., Zhao, X., Jiao, L., & Lang, Y. (2016). A smartphone-based soil color sensor: For soil type classification. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 123, 232–241. DOI

Hartono, A., Anwar, S., Satwoko, A., Koyama, K., Omoto, T., Nakao, A., & Yanai, J. (2015). Phosphorus fractions of paddy soils in Java, Indonesia. Journal of International Society for Southeast Asian Agricultural Sciences, 21(2), 20–30. Retrieved from website

Intaravanne, Y., & Sumriddetchkajorn, S. (2015). Androidbased rice leaf color analyzer for estimating the needed amount of nitrogen fertilizer. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 116, 228–233. DOI

Jemison, J. M., & Fox, R. H. (1988). A quick‐test procedure for soil and plant tissue nitrates using test strips and a hand‐held reflectometer. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 19(14), 1569–1582. DOI

Koralage, I. S. A., Weerasinghe, P., Silva, N. R. N., & De Silva, C. S. (2015). The determination of available phosphorus in soil: A quick and simple method. OUSL Journal, 8, 1–17. DOI

Las, I., Subagyono, K., & Setiyanto, A. P. (2006). Isu dan pengelolaan lingkungan dalam revitalisasi pertanian. Jurnal Penelitian dan Pengembangan Pertanian, 25(3), 173–193. Retrieved from PDF

Mulyani, N. S., Suryadi, M. E., Dwiningsih, S., & Haryanto. (2001). Dinamika hara nitrogen pada tanah sawah. Jurnal Tanah dan Iklim, 19(3), 14–25. Retrieved from website

Olsen, S. R. (1954). Estimation of available phosphorus in soils by extraction with sodium bicarbonate. Circular No. 939. Washington, DC: United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved from website

Rayment, G. E., & Higginson, F. R. (1992). Australian laboratory handbook of soil and water chemical methods. Inkata Press. Retrieved from website

Roth, G. W., Beegle, D. B., Fox, R. H., Toth, J. D., & Piekielek, W. P. (1991). Development of a quicktest kit method to measure soil nitrate. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 22(3–4), 191–200. DOI

Sarker, A., Kashem, M. A., Osman, K. T., Hossain, I., & Ahmed, F. (2014). Evaluation of available phosphorus by soil test methods in an acidic soil incubated with different levels of lime and phosphorus. Open Journal of Soil Science, 04(03), 103–108. DOI

Schaefer, N. L. (1986). Evaluation of a hand held reflectometer for rapid quantitative determination of nitrate. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 17(9), 937–951. DOI

Schmidhalter, U. (2005). Development of a quick on-farm test to determine nitrate levels in soil. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, 168(4), 432–438. DOI

Sudjadi, M., Widjik, S. I. M., & Soleh, M. (1971). Penuntun analisa tanah. Bogor, ID: Lembaga Penelitian Tanah. Retrieved from website

Touré, A., Temgoua, E., Guenat, C., & Elberling, B. (2013). Land use and soil texture effects on organic carbon change in dryland soils, Senegal. Open Journal of Soil Science, 04(06), 253–262. DOI

van Reeuwijk, L. P. (1993). Procedures for soil analysis (4th ed.). Madison, WI: International Soil Reference and Information Centre. Retrieved from website

Vesali, F., Omid, M., Kaleita, A., & Mobli, H. (2015). Development of an android app to estimate chlorophyll content of corn leaves based on contact imaging. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 116, 211–220. DOI

Wibowo, H., Nalendra Warna, R., Wulandari, P., Prakoso, T., Prasetyo, D., Airlangga, T. A., … Handayani, S. (2019). Identification the availability of P in land planted with corn on volcanic, karst and acid soils in Indonesia. KnE Life Sciences, 4(11), 179–188. DOI

Widowati, L. R., De Neve, S., Sukristiyonubowo, Setyorini, D., Kasno, A., Sipahutar, I. A., & Sukristiyohastomo. (2011). Nitrogen balances and nitrogen use efficiency of intensive vegetable rotations in South East Asian tropical Andisols. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 91(2), 131. DOI

Yamin, M., bin Wan Ismail, W. I., bin Mohd Kassim, M. S., Binti Abd Aziz, S., Akbar, F. N., Shamshiri, R. R., … Mahns, B. (2020). Modification of colorimetric method based digital soil test kit for determination of macronutrients in oil palm plantation. International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, 13(4), 188–197. DOI

Yost, R., & Attanandana, T. (2006). Predicting and testing site-specific potassium fertilization of maize in soils of the tropics - An example from Thailand. Soil Science, 171(12), 968–980. Retrieved from website


Copyright (c) 2021 The Author(s)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.