Growing populations increase the need for a better handling of our earth’s resources. Soil is a vitally important resource that supports approximately 90% of all human food, livestock feed, fiber and fuel requirements. Furthermore, soil is increasingly recognized as an important sink for atmospheric CO2 that can help offset greenhouse gas emissions due to the burning of fossil fuels. Unfortunately, soil is not renewable and readily suffers from erosion, contamination, acidification and degradation below that required to support profitable cultivation. For these reasons there is increasing pressure on governments to pass protective legislation and promote best practices for the sustainable exploitation of soil.

Soil chemistry is an important parameter for gauging the fertility of soils, particularly the carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and trace heavy metal content. In natural, uncultivated soils, the concentration of these elements depends on biological activity and the composition of the underlying geology. However, in cultivated soils tilling, heavy cropping and fertilization can radically change soil composition.

X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy is a powerful analytical tool that can obtain useful elemental information to maximize crop growth and ensure product and environmental safety.

XRF soil analysis solutions to ensure the absence of toxic elements

X-ray fluorescence spectrometry is used extensively for geochemical analysis. The main reasons for this are simple sample preparation, high accuracy and precision, wide dynamic range (% to ppm) and good to excellent detection limits across large parts of the periodic table (Na-Am). These benefits also apply to soil samples, for which average detection limits for many elements of agricultural and environmental importance are well below 1 ppm. 

For trace element or micro-nutrient analysis, the Pro-Trace option for the Zetium floor standing XRF instrument is ideal for soil analysis. Developed by highly experienced analysts, Pro-Trace is a unique solution for trace element analysis, with unrivaled accuracy and precision. Pro-Trace is founded on advanced algorithms that address the specific challenges associated with determining low elemental concentrations. Expert knowledge embedded within the software covers the ‘what to measure‘ and ‘how to measure’ and high-purity, multi-element setup standards complete the package.

When infrastructure is very limited, for example, in the field or in remote places, the Epsilon 4 benchtop XRF is used for chemical analysis of soils and sludges. The more compact size of Epsilon 1 makes it an ideal solution to be transported in the back of a car for in the field analysis. 

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