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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lincoln, Nebraska » Wheat, Sorghum and Forage Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #332499

Research Project: Improving bioenergy and forage plants and production systems for the central U.S.

Location: Wheat, Sorghum and Forage Research

Title: Mineral element analyses of switchgrass biomass: comparison of the accuracy and precision of laboratories

Author
item VOGEL, KENNETH - Retired ARS Employee
item MEDILL, ROSE - University Of Oklahoma
item Masterson, Steven - Steve
item Mitchell, Robert - Rob
item Sarath, Gautam

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/9/2016
Publication Date: 2/9/2017
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/5661743
Citation: Vogel, K.P., Medill, R., Masterson, S.D., Mitchell, R., Sarath, G. 2017. Mineral element analyses of switchgrass biomass: comparison of the accuracy and precision of laboratories. Agronomy Journal. 109:1-4.

Interpretive Summary: Mineral concentration of plant biomass can affect its conversion to energy using thermal processes. The objective of this study was to compare the precision and accuracy of university and private laboratories that conduct mineral analyses of plant biomass on a fee basis. Accuracy and precision of the laboratories was tested by having all laboratories conduct mineral analyses on subsamples of the same set of standard switchgrass samples and a National Institute of Standards and Technology biomass sample for which mineral concentration was certified to be accurate. Laboratories differed significantly in both accuracy and precision even though several used the same mineral analysis method which indicates that the differences among laboratories were due to within laboratory procedures and quality control. Laboratories should be using sample standards to monitor both their precision and accuracy. It would be advisable for researchers submitting samples to service laboratories for mineral element analyses to include their own standards among the submitted samples which should have treatment replicates.

Technical Abstract: Mineral concentration of plant biomass can affect its use in thermal conversion to energy. The objective of this study was to compare the precision and accuracy of university and private laboratories that conduct mineral analyses of plant biomass on a fee basis. Accuracy and precision of the laboratories was tested by having all laboratories conduct mineral analyses on subsamples of the same set of standard switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) samples and a certified standard. Laboratories differed significantly in both accuracy and precision even though several used the same analysis method indicating that the differences among laboratories were due to within laboratory procedures and quality control. Laboratories should be using sample standards to monitor both precision and accuracy of their mineral analyses. It would be advisable for researchers submitting samples to service laboratories to replicate the unknown samples to determine precision and to include replicated standards among the submitted samples to determine accuracy.