The Nutrients team analyses a range of water, soil and vegetation samples from projects across the whole of CEH. Over the years we have produced data for many of the long-term monitoring projects running within CEH. We also offer analytical facilities to newly established research projects. Many, but not all, of our methods are UKAS accredited to ISO17025.

A combination of highly qualified and experienced staff using modern computer controlled instrumentation allows us to offer a facility that can analyse large numbers of samples for a wide range of factors.

Analytical Capability

Environmental inorganic analysts in the Nutrients team at CEH are able to analyse a wide range of sample matrices including leachates, rain, stream, river, cloud and pore waters. We distribute, extract and analyse gaseous sample collectors for the UKEAP ammonia monitoring network.

We also analyse soil and vegetation samples for a wide range of factors:

  • Anions in water samples by Ion Chromatography and colorimetry
  • pH and conductivity using a two electrode robotic analyser
  • Dissolved or Total Carbon and Nitrogen in water samples using a combustion analyser
  • Alkalinity by autotitration
  • Carbon and Nitrogen in solid samples using a combustion analyser
  • Phosphorus and Nitrogen in solid samples using a peroxide/sulphuric digestion followed by colorimetric analysis
  • Extractable nitrogen species in soils using KCl extraction followed by colorimetric analysis
  • Extractable phosphate in soils using a variety of extractants followed by colorimetric analysis
  • Absorbance scan over a wide range of wavelengths for water samples
  • Tannins in vegetation
  • Lignin in vegetation
  • Organic matter content by combustion

Contact us if the compounds you are interested in are not listed here.


  • Dionex IC systems - equipped with autosamplers for unattended lengthy analytical runs. We have two instruments, one ICS200 with an AS autosampler, the other an ICS2100 with an ASDV sampler. These allow us to run both trace and major anions at the same time when workload demands.
  • SEAL AQ2 discrete analyser - again equipped with autosampler. Allows us automated analyses of any determinand where there is a colorimetric method such as phosphate, ammonium, nitrate, nitrite, TON (nitrite plus nitrate), silicate.
  • Skalar Formacs analyser - again equipped with autosampler. Can be configured to perform TC, IC, NPOC, TN, DOC(as TC-IC) analyses in any combination.
  • Skalar SP10 robot - equipped with WVW 730pH meter & WVW 730 conductivity meter to perform automated analyses of water samples.
  • Mettler-Toledo DL53 autotitrator - equipped with Rondo 60 autosampler. Allows us automated analyses of alkalinity in water samples.
  • Elementar Vario-EL elemental analyser - analyses solid sample for TC & TN. The replacement instrument being installed in early 2013 will also allow us to offer S analyses.

Sample type

A large variety of sample media can be analysed such as:

  • Water
  • Vegetation
  • Sediment and soil
  • Biota

It may be possible to adapt some of our methods to cope with additional sample matrices as required, although this would require an allocation of time for development work.


  • For many years we have analysed samples for several sites for the Environmental Change Network (ECN) as part of NERC’s contribution to this multi-body project. We also analyse samples from a range of sites across the UK as part of the Acid Waters Monitoring network.
  • We also run sample collection and analyses for the Ribble & Wyre project, led by Paul Scholefield at CEH's Lancaster site.
  • We analyse samples for the Conwy – source to sea project run from our Bangor and also for the Plynlimon catchment core monitoring project, again run from Bangor.
  • We run the distribution, collection and analyses side of the UKEAP network, run as a project from our Edinburgh site under contract to DEFRA.

Contact us

For quotes or information about nutrient analysis please contact Dr M. Gloria Pereira or Dr Paddy Keenan.

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Facility Type: 

  • Chemistry Nutrients

Science areas: