Chemistry and Soil Research Institute

Chemistry and Soil Research Institute

The Chemistry and Soil Research Institute (CSRI) falls under the Department of Research and Specialist Services (DRSS) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development (AMID). It comprises the Pedology and Soil Survey section, the Crop Nutrition section,Soil ProductivityResearch Laboratoryand Legume Inoculant Factory in Marondera, theSpecial Analysis Laboratoryand the General Analytical Laboratory.Read More


The Crop Nutrition is found at the Head office


The foundation of the present day Chemistry and Soil Research Institute was laid in 1909 when an agricultural chemistry laboratory, which later became the Chemistry Branch, was established in the then Department of Agriculture. From the onset it provided a comprehensive analytical and advisory service to the farming industry and also investigated a variety of problems- as a steady stream of articles in the early volumes of the then Rhodesia Agriculture Journal showed.

As the economy of the country expanded, particularly after the Second World War, and intensification of land-use increased the need to apply scientific principles to land selection and management, so the range of activities within the branch and the need for specialization increased. Thus, in 1948, the growing demand for soil surveys of land-settlement and irrigation projects made a separate soil survey section necessary, in which staff could devote their whole time to Pedological studies and the development and standardization of criteria for land-use capability.

A few years later, a small soil fertility research section was formed with the initial objective of establishing suitable methods for determining the available nutrient status of soils of the country and correlating assessments of soil fertility with fertilizer requirements, as determined in field experiments. The marked success that attended this investigation led to the setting up, in 1957, of a separate soil testing section to provide an advisory service to farmers and an analytical service to research stations. The following year the research section began work on the complementary physical factors in soil productivity, namely soil moisture relationships and this eventually led to the establishment of the present soil physics section.

Meanwhile research on specific aspects of soil fertility made good progress and, to reinforce this, the newly-formed Agricultural Research Council of Central Africa set up in 1962 a Soil Productivity Research Unit in Marondera which assumed responsibility for the more fundamental approaches to soil fertility research, embracing chemical, physical and microbiological aspects. However, the Branch continued to investigate ad hoc problems as they arose and also to work on soil-plant-moisture relationships. When the council ceased to exist in 1967, its unit in Marondera was taken over by government and attached to the Branch.

The present name of the Branch was adopted in 1965 to reflect more accurately the expansion of its activities to include field and laboratory studies that went far beyond the purely chemical. Thus the present-day responsibilities of the Branch fall into three distinct, though closely interrelated, sections, namely:

  1. Soil Testing, including ad hoc soil fertility investigations,
  2. Pedology and Soil Survey
  3. Soil Productivity Research Laboratory, and its functions will be discussed in more detail under these functions.