In March 2023, KPM Analytics had the opportunity to interview Mr. Florin Crișan, the Lab Manager, and Ms. Emese Batinaș, the Lab Chemist, from SC Minear Laboratoare SRL, a Romanian company specializing in quality analysis and services for the agricultural field. They shared their thoughts and experiences after a few weeks of using their newly acquired analytical equipment, the SmartChem® 210, from KPM Analytics.
SC Minear Laboratoare SRL provides analysis for a wide range of elements such as macro and microelements, pH, humus, soil texture, main trace elements (nitrogen, phosphate, potassium, sodium, calcium, nitrite, phosphorus, nitrogen), heavy metals, plants, solid (manure), and liquid (slurry) organic fertilizers. They are accredited for various macro and micronutrients, including potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, and gold. They also offer chemical fertilizers analysis, irrigation water analysis, wastewater analysis, and drinking water analysis.
Their primary focus is on soil analysis, helping farmers throughout Romania (particularly in the West and Central regions) determine the optimal timing for fertilizing their fields. Therefore, the laboratory’s activity is strongly impacted by this seasonality: high activity from July to October and low activity from April to July when most farmers have already completed their fertilization work.
During their busy period, Minear Laboratoare analyzes around 40 samples per day. Occasionally, they receive up to 80 samples daily, but their capacity is limited due to the time required for sample preparation, as the extraction process takes 24 hours.
The laboratory mainly uses atomic absorption photometry and molecular absorption photometry techniques to carry out their analyses. They have been utilizing Flow Injection Analysis (FIA) for the past 11 years to analyze NO2, NO3, ammonia, humus, and phosphates.
In 2022, they were looking to replace their FIA equipment because it was at the end of its life. After discussing their testing procedures and challenges with KPM Analytics, the AMS Alliance SmartChem® discrete analyzer technology was chosen because it was best suited to their parameters and workload.
In just a few weeks of use, Minear Laboratoare has already observed the advantages of SmartChem® over the FIA system: SmartChem® offers automated analysis, significantly reducing the time spent on manual steps such as sample preparation, calibration, dilution and handling. Sample programming and report generation are also more accessible with SmartChem®. “It's [SmartChem] is more user-friendly, easier to learn and adapt to, even for less experienced users,” commented Mr. Crisan. Our FIA system was less flexible because it required us to feed the collector and check the process regularly. It was complicated to handle and configure, and we recently experienced a drop in performance when an operator unfamiliar with the FIA struggled to match the speed of its predecessor.” The SmartChem® discrete analyzer requires less manual work, making it more intuitive and user-friendly.
The use of the SmartChem® discrete analyzer has changed their daily routine work. It provides them with more freedom and flexibility: once the samples and reagents are ready, they can let the Smartchem® work and focus on other tasks that require their full attention. This is particularly advantageous when they receive ad hoc requests for different determinations.
And SmartChem's appeal for Minear Lab is not limited to soil analysis. They also receive requests for plants, water, fertilizers and other extraction processes, which can be tested with new methods using the SmartChem®.