Computer program promises to revolutionise soil sampling

Scientists in Rothamsted have developed a new computer program to improve the process of sampling soil on contaminated land.

The program is designed to prevent land managers from having to collect too many samples, which can be costly, or too few, which may not provide enough information.

Funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Home-Grown Cereals Authority, the research team has no plans for commercialisation yet.

Lead researcher Dr Murray Lark said: "At present our focus is on developing the basic ideas of adaptive sampling through further research. We are also engaged in some discussion with outside organizations about possible applications of the ideas to specific problems.

"We have not, as yet, made any attempt to identify a route to commercialization of the program, but we would certainly be interested in discussing this option, provided that it did not unduly limit our opportunities to do further research in the area."

But there should be plenty of demand for a system to make the soil sampling process more efficient, he added, pointing out that the Government's target for siting 60% of new build on brownfield sites means there will be a need for accurate sampling of contaminated and newly remediated land.

Gretchen Hendriks



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