Faculty and students in the Soil and Water Sciences Department use a wide range of analytical and field instrumentation in their research programs. The department established several core laboratories, not only to support faculty and students but also to provide analytical services and expertise to our clientele in the State of Florida and elsewhere. This group of Soil and Water Diagnostic Laboratories houses state-of-the-art instrumentation for analysis of soil, water, plant, and other environmental samples for plant nutrients and a range of inorganic and organic contaminants. These services are available at a nominal cost to our clientele.
The Pedology and Mineralogy Core Laboratory provides basic physical, chemical, and mineralogical analyses for soils and sediments, performing the suite of analyses generally included under the term “soil characterization,” some of which are needed to classify soils under USDA-NRCS soil taxonomy. The laboratory houses a variety of instruments, including a computer-controlled x-ray diffractometer, petrographic and dissecting microscopes (with digital camera), UV-visible spectrophotometers, and other basic laboratory equipment.
The GIS and Spectral Soil Laboratory provides state-of-the art setup for landscape modeling, soil and remote sensing, and environmental data analysis (statistical analyses; geostatistical modeling; space-time modeling; geographic information systems (GIS); remote sensing; and mechanistic simulation modeling). Modern quantitative methods are used to support digital soil mapping and modeling projects. The spectral soil lab houses a spectroradimeter (QualitySpec Pro; Analytical Spectral Devices, Inc.) for hyperspectral visible/near-infrared diffuse reflectance spectroscopic measurements and a FTIR (with drift accessory) 600 series (Agilent Technologies Inc.) for hyperspectral mid-infrared sensing.
The Biogeochemistry of Trace Metals Laboratory (BTML) provides expertise and service for elemental analysis of environmental samples.
The Microbial Ecology and Molecular Biology Laboratory provides support for a range of soil microbial analyses, including analyses and training regarding mycorrhizal fungi and molecular ecology. The lab conducts Mycorrhizal Spore Count and Mycorrhizal Inoculum Potential (MIP) Bioassay to estimate the activities of mycorrhizal fungi in samples. The molecular ecology component of the core facility has worked with companies and academic labs to enumerate specific microorganisms in soils. This typically involves extraction of DNA and enumeration of specific genes by quantitative PCR.
Training on mycorrhizal associations is organized by the laboratory every year during the summer on campus to help organic farmers, scientists, researchers, students, and others. Off campus training sessions can also be arranged for an additional fee.
The Organic Contaminants Analytical Research Laboratory (OCARL) provides services for faculty and students studying fate and transport of contaminants in soils and waters, including endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs), pharmaceuticals and personal care products, degradation metabolites of nonionic surfactants used in household and industrial detergents, petroleum refining (DNAPL and LNAPL), pulp and paper production, crop protection chemicals, waste products from plastics and textiles manufacturing. The OCARL is equipped with a high pressure liquid chromatograph with UV-Visible detector and a high pressure liquid chromatograph coupled to a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer (LC-MS/MS), two gas chromatographs with various detectors (nitrogen-phosphorus, electron capture, thermal conductive, and flame ionization), and a UV-visible spectrometer. The radioactive laboratory is used predominantly for radio-labeled contaminant degradation studies.
In addition to all standard equipment, the Soil Chemistry Laboratory has a Fast Sequential Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (AAS), model 220FS, and a high performance liquid chromatography unit (HPLC - Waters 2695 separation Module system). The HPLC can be used in soil chemistry, soil biology, analyses of ions, polymer analyses, and organic-inorganic compounds for research and other uses in agriculture, food industry, medical, legal, and manufacturing processes. The AAS is used for flame-source atomic absorption analysis of aqueous solutions for elements such as calcium, magnesium and iron. Also available is a spectrophotometer for analysis of phosphorus in solution.
The Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometry Laboratory (SIMS) operates a ThermoFinnigan MAT DeltaPlus XL Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer (IRMS) interfaced via a Conflo-III device to a Costech ECS 4010 elemental analyzer for continuous flow measurement of stable carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) isotope ratios of organic and inorganic samples. Additional peripherals interfaced with the mass spec include a ThermoFinnigan GasBench II and a ThermoFinnigan GC-Combustion III. The SIMS provides the following services: (1) Analysis of stable isotopes (15N and 13C), as well as total nitrogen and total carbon data for soil, plant, and other organic and inorganic materials; (2) stable isotopic analysis of 13C of pure CO2 or atmospheric CO2; (3) stable isotopic analysis of 13C of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) of water; (4) stable isotopic analysis of 15N of N2O of water; and (5) analysis of 13C of compound specific organic carbon. The lab can also provide simple sample prep by weighing samples using a microbalance and loading them for isotopic analysis.
The Wetland Biogeochemistry Laboratory is a NELAP certified facility in the category of General Chemistry for water, soil, and plant tissue samples. Two laboratories provide instrumentation and equipment for a range of sample processing, digestion, and chemical analysis tasks. The sample processing and digestion lab is equipped with a muffle furnace and two acid resistant fume hoods for hot plate and tube/block digestions, as well as a fiber analyzer for plant tissue. The analytical lab houses three flow analyzers for nitrogen and phosphorus analysis, four gas chromatographs, an ion chromatograph (Dionex), a CN analyzer (Thermo Flash EA), a dissolved carbon analyzer, and other instruments such as UV/Vis and fluorescence spectrophotometers. The WBL also houses a Membrane Inlet Mass Spectrometry for measurement of denitrification rates in wetlands and aquatic systems. The laboratory also offers a variety of chemical and biochemical based analyses to characterize and quantify microbial community structure (Phospholipid Fatty Acid Analysis, PLFA), and microbial functions (fluoresce based enzyme analyses, denitrification assays, respiration (methane, CH4 and carbon dioxide, CO2). The gas chromatographs are configured to measure three different greenhouse gases nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide.