Technology [photo] 


Chemtech Agri: World-class service

The increasing acceptance of precision farming as a mechanism to limit production risk and optimise profitability, while protecting the environment, has put enormous pressure on high-volume soil laboratories in the last decade. Sample turn-around times have become an important criterion for laboratories as producers depend on the results to make farming decisions. However, it remains critically important for any laboratory manager to ensure accuracy and precision, and therefore the repeatability of analyses. The ISO/IEC 17025 standard and accreditation recognises laboratories internationally for their technical and methodical competency and is an important measure that consumers need to pay attention to.

Mega-laboratories are laboratories that analyse more than 100 000 samples per year. Despite the growing world population putting increasing pressure on higher production and the resulting use of precision farming, there are still relatively few of these laboratories in the world. There are only about 15 mega-laboratories in the USA.

Globally, mega-laboratories focus on innovation, modern analytical technology and automisation to be able to process larger volumes faster, while improving accuracy and precision.

Omnia's own mega-soil laboratory, Chemtech Agri, is proudly South African and situated in Sasolburg. With an annual sample turnover equivalent to three mega-laboratories, as well as ISO/IEC 17025 accredited cation analyses, it is no surprise that even international visitors are amazed at the efficiency and innovation with which analyses are carried out.

The growth in demand for precision analyses from Omnia's clients and their need for turnaround times to be improved even more, was a challenge which needed to be addressed. The investment in this facility is something that the Omnia team is proud of. It is one of the pillars of the Nutriology® business model in which the company succeeds in creating prosperity for our clients by making use of our intellectual and technological capacity.

Omnia's investment in new and modern ovens, appliances, instruments and technology was the solution to this challenge. Since the completion of this project, we can proudly report that:

  • soil samples are analysed and the results reported within two days by making use of the same reliable methods as before;
  • this unprecedented turnaround time is not at the expense of quality, as our ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation is the measure against which analyses are done with accuracy, precision and technical ability;
  • a policy in which laboratory client complaints are resolved within 48 hours, creates confidence in our clients; and
  • soil samples can now be stored for 12 months for quick reference and enquiries.

This mega-soil laboratory in the Free State is indeed world class and offers a valuable and affordable service to producers, which will lead to food security for a growing population. 

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The new and improved soil laboratory

By Vossie Wilsnach (Manager - Chemtech)