prepASH® Applications in Agricultural Research for Feed Testing and Food Analysis
Among many different areas of research, prepASH® is prominently present in agricultural research institutes all over the globe. For a maximal sample throughput some institutions are working with three, some even with four instruments simultaneously.
Animal Feed Testing
In one case prepASH® is being used by the government for feed testing, and the inspection of feed samples coming in from the entire country. In this case feed tests are being carried out for cows and pigs, as well as the dry matter and the crude ash of their lyophilized dung. Feed testing happens in a gas atmosphere which can be steered directly in the prepASH®.
Further applications include food analysis and the analysis of agricultural produce such as grain, milk, cheese, and other dairy products (here the dry matter plays a rather subordinate role), as well as fats and honey. Dry matter and the crude ash of soil samples, seeds and seedlings must be analyzed to ensure a certain quality, for example for wine and viticulture. The agricultural samples to be analyzed come from various sources usually located nearby the different institutes, such as livestock stables, cheese dairies and apiaries.
The difference between research done at agricultural and pharmaceutical/chemical laboratories are very small. All use the same analytical equipment and instrumentation, however the standards differ. Although there are strict regulations to be followed to get the accreditation for research in agriculture, animal feed and livestock, the GMP regulations play less a role. In agriculture there are references for all samples, which ensures that the results are correct. The analyses have to be carried out several times. In addition, retained samples are measured repeatedly to check consistency over time. The matrix, however, can be very distinct to the field of research of a laboratory.
For a further increase of the sample throughput, the use of prepSTATION is very beneficial. In many cases it allows to double the sample runs executed within one day. In the cases mentioned above, the institutes decided to rather buy an additional prepASH® because the up to 10’000 samples analyzed per year might have very different ashing times.
The prepDATA software (freely available via www.precisa.com) is being widely used to create sample lists comfortably with the computer or to export data directly into the LIMS. One of the laboratory technicians surprisingly stated: “Are there really people who don’t work with prepDATA? I’ve already got so used to it, I couldn’t do without this software.”
Of course, the institutes, compared the prepASH® to competitive products. What they mentioned as benefits were: High sample throughput, robustness, durability, and reliability of the instrument. Also, the good and fast technical service is particularly important if an institute is accredited since regular maintenance of the equipment is a prerequisite to ensure the quality standard.