Cornell Nutrient Analysis Laboratory

Date: 

to 2009

Summary: 

The Cornell Nutrition Analysis Program (CNAL) is an integrated research, teaching and extension/service analytical facility. It is ranked second largest University analytical laboratory in the Northeastern Region that serves the agricultural community. It is the only soil university-laboratory in the nation that serves the three-fold mission of research-teaching-extension. The laboratory currently provides analytical support (analyses and training) in support of the research programs of more than 40 faculty members in 10 different departments at Cornell University. CNAL leads in the development and/or evaluation of analytical procedures and work with private laboratories and the university community to make such new laboratory methodologies available to the scientific community and the public. The laboratory's research and environmental programs currently analyze about 15,000 samples annually. Through local Cornell Cooperative Extension and Soil and Water Conservation District offices and other venues, CNAL also analyses approximately 15,000 soil samples for soil fertility status and 5,000 tissue samples for fruit tree nutrient status and supplies unbiased fertility recommendations based on CALS faculty research in the areas of field crop, vegetable, ornamental, tree fruit, berry, grapevines, and turfgrass production. In addition, the laboratory staff provides training for undergraduate and graduate students in soil, plant, water and environmental analyses and interpretations of results. Approximately, 90 undergraduate and graduate students obtained hands-on experience in soil, plant, water and environmental analyses, and interpretation of results through academic courses, directed group study, and individual research projects. In addition, annually the laboratory is visited by primary, secondary, and high schools and technical community colleges in New York (approximately 50 students, three teachers and two professors), national and international groups (approximately 30 students and 15-20 visiting scientists) interested in learning about soil, plant and water testing and other analytical techniques. New testing methods were developed, such as Illinois Soil Nitrogen Test and Late-season Corn Stalk Nitrate Test, were developed and implemented, which are being used for making nutrient management decisions by the farming community.

Issue: 

The Cornell nutrient Analysis Laboratory was established with a three-fold mission to:

1) promote agricultural and environmental management in New York State by increasing the efficiency of production of the state`s field, vegetable and fruit crops through the development, use, and acceptance of research-based soil and tissue testing methods and un-biased fertilizer recommendation principles.

2) provide analytical services to research communities within and outside Cornell University; assist faculty, staff and students in developing appropriate sample preparation techniques and instrumentation procedures specific to their research needs; modify or develop test methods to meet ever-evolving needs of stakeholders; and collaborate with research faculty and other laboratories in evaluating and developing new analytical methods and make them available to the scientific community within Cornell and at regional, national, and international level.

3) Educate students and professionals in analytical techniques and methodologies; demonstrate and provide state-of-the art equipment, discuss results and their applications; Integrate laboratory services with undergraduate and graduate level courses; train Cornell students and staff on equipment so they can analyze their samples for a reduced fee; provide tours to school and community college students, foreign visitors and other stakeholders. These tours include explanations on analytical process, laboratory equipment and quality control procedures.

4) Collaborate closely with other university laboratories, and private laboratories with method development, troubleshooting and quality assurance/quality control issues.

Response: 

Across its three missions, the laboratory provided a wide spectrum of testing programs for soils, plants, water and other agricultural and environmental materials. Fee-based programs were made available to all University faculty and staff as well as the public. The laboratory supported the research, teaching, and extension programs of more than 40 faculty members in six departments within CALS and four departments outside of CALS. Analytical methods are being continuously upgraded and critically evaluated with respect to new research results and emergent demands from the research community and the public. New tests were added as Cornell researchers and extension specialists develop and investigate new test methodologies and procedures for better understanding and improvement of nutrient, waste and environmental management recommendations. The CNAL mission includes collaboration with the researchers to modify and develop protocols for performance of such tests on a cost-effective basis and establish QA/QC procedure for each method. CNAL leads in development and/or evaluation of analytical procedures and work with private laboratories and the university community to make such new laboratory methodologies available to the scientific community and the public.The laboratory analyzed approximately 35,000 samples and trained approximately eight students on several instruments, making it possible for them to analyze their samples at a discounted price. About 120 students and approximately 15 international visitors interested in learning about soil, plant and water testing and other analytical techniques toured the laboratory.
New tests, late season stalk nitrate test and Illinois Soil Nitrogen Tests (ISNT), were implemented for assessing the nitrogen status of the soil for corn production. The laboratory analyzed approximately 980 ISNT samples and 400 corn stalk samples, indicating grower response to and acceptance of the new tests towards nitrogen management on farms.

For the new lead determination test service that was introduced in December 2009 last year, the laboratory received 400 soil samples for total lead determination from its Urban clients. In addition, there has been approximately 15% increase in environmental samples submitted to the lab for analysis through its environmental research program. There exists a potential for futher growth in CNAL's research and environmental sample analysis program as the laboratory is expected to become certified by NYS DOH through ELAP.

Impact: 

The CNAL within CALS functions as an integrated research, teaching and service/extension unit. Through local Cornell Cooperative Extension and Soil and Water Conservation District offices and other venues, CNAL approximately 13,000 soil samples for soil fertility status and 5,000 tissue samples for fruit tree nutrient status and supplies unbiased fertility recommendations based on CALS faculty research in the areas of field crop, vegetable, ornamental, tree fruit, berry, grapevines, and turfgrass production. In addition, the laboratory staff provides training for undergraduate and graduate students in soil, plant, water and environmental analyses and interpretations of results.

The laboratory trained approximately eight students on several instruments, making it possible for them to analyze their samples at a discounted price. About 120 students and approximately 15 international visitors interested in learning about soil, plant and water testing and other analytical techniques toured the laboratory. Under its internship program, a student is conducting research on method evaluation and comparison of techniques for determination of nitrate in corn stalks.

New tests, late season stalk nitrate test and Illinois Soil Nitrogen Tests (ISNT), were implemented for assessing the nitrogen status of the soil for corn production. The laboratory analyzed approximately 980 ISNT samples and 400 corn stalk samples, indicating grower response to and acceptance of the new tests towards making fertilizer management decisions on farms.

The laboratory analyzed approximately 15,000 samples submitted to the lab under its reaserch program. The laboratory received 400 soil samples for total lead determination from its Urban clients as part of research collaboration with Cornell Waste Management group. In addition, there has been approximately 15% increase in environmental samples submitted to the lab for analysis through its environmental research program. There exists a potential for futher growth in CNAL's research and environmental sample analysis program as the laboratory is expected to become certified by NYS DOH through ELAP.

Submitted by: 

International focus: 

  • Mexico
  • Kenya
  • Turkey
  • Nepal
  • Zambia
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Venezuela
  • Pakistan
  • United States of America
  • Honduras
  • China

United States focus: 

  • New York