soil profile

Sandy soils are usually characterized by a low cation exchange capacity (CEC). Photo courtesy of the Pacific Regional Soil Science Society. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives International License.

When selecting methods for trace element analysis of soils, some of the most important things to consider are:

  • Sampling scheme and methodology.
  • Choice of tools. Sample handling is crucial for trace element analysis due to potential cross-contamination. Consequently, do not use metal tools in the field or laboratory that could contaminate the sample.
  • Objectives of the study. Always take into account what is relevant for your specific system and the purpose of the study. For example, is it appropriate to look at the “total” or “available” form of a particular metal?

Example Calculation

DTPA-TEA test

Cu, Fe, Mn, and Zn cation concentrations in the extract are determined by AAS or ICP-OES, this must then be calculated to a concentration in the original soil sample.

The results are reported as μg/g soil.

x = Sample reading (μg/mL)

b = Blank reading (μg/mL)

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