Milling plant and soil material in plastic tubes over-estimates carbon and under-estimates nitrogen concentrations

Stuart William Smith, A.H. Jean Robertson, Andrew Alexander Meharg, Robin J. Pakeman, David Johnson, Sarah J. Woodin, Rene Van Der Wal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background and aims
Milling of plant and soil material in plastic tubes, such as microcentrifuge tubes, over-estimates carbon (C) and under-estimates nitrogen (N) concentrations due to the introduction of polypropylene into milled samples, as identified using Fourier-transform infra-red spectroscopy.
Methods and results
This study compares C and N concentrations of roots and soil milled in microcentrifuge tubes versus stainless steel containers, demonstrating that a longer milling time, greater milling intensity, smaller sample size and inclusion of abrasive sample material all increase polypropylene contamination from plastic tubes leading to overestimation of C concentrations by up to 8 % (0.08 g g−1).
Conclusions
Erroneous estimations of C and N, and other analytes, must be assumed after milling in plastic tubes and milling methods should be adapted to minimise such error.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-513
Number of pages5
JournalPlant and Soil
Volume369
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013

Keywords

  • carbon
  • Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy
  • grinding
  • microcentrifuge tubes
  • milling
  • nitrogen

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