The Department of Agriculture has a large and well equipped laboratory. It is the responsiblity of the laboratory for the processing of all soil and animal feed samples, along with faecial egg counting (FEC).
Soil samples are analysed for a wide range of nutrients including NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium), trace elements and exchangeable cations (calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium).
The laboratory assists with the preparation of fish/squid samples for bacteriology tests. These samples are carried out by the public health laboratory at the Stanley hospital.
Fish samples are also sent to the UK laboratories of the Government Chemist for heavy metal/PCB tests.
The laboratory also provides support to the Veterinary Services section with animal disease diagnosis and runs tests such as haematology profiles on blood samples, preparation of blood for biochemistry screening at the hospital and parasitological testing of faeces samples (mainly sheep and cattle).
Soil and Plant testing
In the DoA Laboratory we can provide analytical testing on soil samples to provide information on the chemical properties of the soil.
As a basic package we offer pH and NPK testing:
To test for pH we use a pH probe and test soil suspension in Water, Calcium Chloride, and Potassium Chloride, this gives us values that allow us to provide insight into the in situ soil pH, the Sodium content of the soil and cation saturation.
When testing for N (Nitrogen) we use the Kjeldahl method to determine the total Nitrogen content of the soil.
To test for P (Phosphorous) the laboratory uses the Bray I method to give a value for the exchangeable Phosphorous in the soil, however this can be easily modified to the Bray II method to give total Phosperous although this is not recommended as only the exchangeable Phosperous is available for plants to use.
Testing for K (Potassium) is done through flame photometry where extractable potassium is removed in to solution using Ammonium Nitrate and the levels of potassium are then determined by linear regression using a standard solution of Potassium Salt.
The Laboratory also offer tests for Sodium, Organic matter and Basic Cation Exchange capacity.
Feed testing is only required if you are growing your own feed for livestock such as turnips, or potatoes.
The DoA laboratory can offer Feed tests for:
Metabolic energy, which is determined as a function of the Digestibility of Organic Dry Matter. The Metabolic Energy is an estimate of the energy that is available for use by the animal.
Dry matter, this is a measure of how much of the feed is not water, and is determined by the removal of all water from the sample.
Dry Matter Digestibility, this provides us with a prediction of the amount of the feed that may be digested by a ruminant, we achieve this through the Pepsin-Cellulose method which seeks to imitate the digestive track of Ruminants.
Crude Protein, this is determined through the Kjeldahl method. Crude Protein is a measure of the total Nitrogen in the plant which is the building block of all amino acids which make up all proteins.
Neutral Detergent Fibre, which is determined through the digestion of feed material in a neutral solution. Neutral detergent fibre is a measure of most fibre in a plant.
Phosphorous, which is a key building block of DNA and ATP both of which are vital for life to grow and exist, it is determined through the same method as used in Soil Testing.
Blood and Tissue Testing
The laboratory can also perform haematological testing, and in vitro clinical chemical analysis if requested to do so by the veterinary services as well as hydatid checks on suspect samples from animals.
Other tests such as heavy metals, trace elements, and some blood and serum tests are sent overseas for testing in specialised laboratories.
FEC (Faecal egg count)
The testing of animal faeces for the presence and quantity of parasite eggs is a helpful tool to determine if there is a need for worming treatment. The Veterinary Service and DoA are able to help do this by carrying out Faecal Egg Counts (FEC) on suitable samples from Sheep, Cattle, and Horses.
FEC’s should be booked in with the Lab by contacting the Lab Scientist by email or phone.
Samples should be dropped off at the DoA no later than 48 hours after collection and should be stored in the fridge except when in transit, a sample submission form should be dropped off at this point too, these are available for download from our website. Samples should only be submitted on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday to allow for time to process them in that week.
Please ensure that samples are left with a staff member and not on the doorstep.
The DoA laboratory can provide space for scientific researchers to undertake laboratory research, and experimentation, as well as providing guidance and training on how to use the equipment available in the laboratory.
Researchers are required to complete a laboratory access form and review and add to a risk assessment both of which can be requested form the Laboratory Scientist. More guidance can be found in the Guidance for Visiting User’s document available for download below.
FEC (fecal egg count):
Joshua Anderson-Wheatley | Laboratory Scientist
Department of Agriculture | Falkland Islands Government | Stanley | Falkland Islands | FIQQ 1ZZ