This study tests the potential of near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) for predicting soil fertility and management history from topsoil (0-10 cm deep) spectra. Soil fertility was assessed by measuring the growth of a test plant, and soil management history was determined through inquiries with farmers. Moreover, NIRS predictive value was compared with that of a group of topsoil parameters: total carbon and nitrogen, nitrate, potential respiration and denitrification, and microbial biomass. Modelling used partial and modified partial least square regressions to ensure comparisons between predictions by NIRS versus by soil parameters. Soil fertility and management history were well predicted by NIRS (Q2 = 0.78 and R2 = 0.89 both; Q2 and R2 are cross-validation and calibration coefficients of determination, respectively), as were the soil parameters (Q2 = 0.79-0.92 and R2 = 0.86-0.98). Soil fertility and management history were more accurately predicted by NIRS than by the set of soil parameters. © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.