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Making the most of soil carbon - tools for farmers, advisers and policy makers

An innovative ‘Toolbox’, aimed to help farmers achieve a good balance between crop productivity, soil health and soil carbon storage, has been developed as a result of a major EU research project called SmartSOIL.

Every arable farmer knows that soil organic matter is at the heart of profitable crop production. It helps improve the workability of soils, store water and increase nutrient supply. As leading soil scientist Professor Pete Smith from Aberdeen University says “Good management of soil organic matter is essential for producing high quality crops at yields that deliver good economic returns”.

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Estuary research project highlights advantages of continuous monitoring

Researchers from the south coast of England have established a small network ofmonitoring instruments in Christchurch Harbour and associated rivers to study the effects of weather events on water quality, and to better understand the magnitude and spatial/temporal variation of macronutrient fluxes - nitrogen (N), carbon (C) and phosphorus (P).

The project, which is financed by a Natural Environmental Research Councilgrant, has involved the installation of three continuous monitoring stations; one in the harbour itself, a second in the river Avon and a third in the river Stour.

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MCERTS key to emissions monitors’ rental popularity

Quantitech, the Milton Keynes based environmental instrumentation specialist, has reported a surge in demand for its rentable emissions analysers. The company’s Dominic Duggan says: “This is undoubtedly for two reasons; first and foremost, the two main analysers are MCERTS approved and secondly, they are both transportable and simple to carry from one site to the next.”

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Air Monitors launches nanoparticle detector

Traditional methods for measuring airborne particulate matter measure particle mass per unit air volume, usually with an upper size limit of x microns (PMx etc.). However, from a human health perspective, the particles of most interest are those that penetrate deep into the lungs. For this reason, Air Monitors has launched the Naneos Partector nanoparticle detector in the UK.

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Ion Science Tiger VOC detector helps BAMRitchies Limited to stay on track

Handheld PID used for nightly monitoring of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during on-site headspace testing of contaminated soil samples on railway contracts.

Award-winning geotechnical company, BAMRitchies Limited, is using an Ion Science (www.ionscience.com) handheld Tiger photoionisation detector (PID) for nightly monitoring of volatile organic compound (VOCs) concentrations during on-site headspace testing of contaminated soil samples on railway contracts.

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EatBy App launches on World Environment Day

A major new money saving and environmentally beneficial smart kitchen app is due to be launched on the 2015 World Environment Day, Friday 5th of June. The hotly anticipated EatBy App has been tipped to become the must have app of 2015 as it promises to save it's users up to £700 every year and help reduce food waste.

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Quantitech’s FID claim upheld

altIn a recent press release Quantitech Limited announced that the SICK 3006 is the only portable FID with MCERTS approval for using either hydrogen or hydrogen/helium fuel gas. This claim was challenged, but Sira Certification has confirmed that the 3006 passed the MCERTS performance requirements for both gas options.

So, why is that important? Quantitech Director Dominic Duggan explains: “The hydrogen/helium fuel gas mixture is at least three times the cost of hydrogen gas, so one might assume that all FIDs would run on hydrogen. However, some FID manufacturers are unable to achieve the MCERTS performance requirements whilst running on hydrogen and have to resort to the more expensive mixture.

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Portability key to success of oil in water analyser

Quantitech first launched the InfraCal 2, a portable oil in water analyser, in 2013 and the company’s Dr Andrew Hobson says: “There has been a heavy demand for this instrument in the oil sector because of the new functionality that now comes as standard.The InfraCal2 can now be operated from an internal battery and also provides lower detection limits.

However, the original InfraCal was not able to store multiple calibrations or to log readings, so the latest instrument can be more independent, making it better suited to remote operation. We are therefore hoping that it will also become popular in a wider range of other manufacturing and processing industries, including wastewater and fracking.”

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Successful trial for new remote Phosphate monitor

Researchers at the UK’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) have conducted trials on the river Thames to evaluate a new remote phosphate monitoring technology (Cycle-P)as part of a high-frequency (hourly resolution) monitoring programme that is studying river nutrient concentrations and how they are affected by algal abundance. The monitoring system ran continuously over the summer of 2014,measuring total reactive phosphate levels in the river, day and night, seven days a week. These results have now been compared with manually collected samples that were analysed in a laboratory with the traditional Murphy and Riley spectrophotometric method on unfiltered samples, and Dr Mike Bowes, senior nutrient hydrochemist at CEH, says: “The Cycle-P is working really well; the system operated independently for long periods and produced results that tracked our lab samples closely.”

Most water quality parameters are relatively simple to measure with low-power accurate sensors. However, the measurement of phosphate necessitates colorimetric analysis and this presents a significant challenge in remote locations with difficult access or where mains power is not available. The Cycle PO4 from OTT Hydrometry (known as the Cycle-P) is therefore gathering considerable interest because it is battery powered and able to operate unattended in the field,running over 1,000 tests before a field service is necessary to change the reagents.

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