Use of Lithium Metaborate to Determine Total Phosphorus and Other Element Concentrations in Soil, Plant, and Related Materials.

Kowalenko, C.G., Benoît, D.-L., and Babuin, D. (2014). "Use of Lithium Metaborate to Determine Total Phosphorus and Other Element Concentrations in Soil, Plant, and Related Materials.", Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 45(1), pp. 15-28. doi : 10.1080/00103624.2013.848884  Access to full text

Abstract

Lithium metaborate was examined as an alternative to sodium carbonate for preparing samples for measuring total elements, especially P, by fusion in soil, geological, plant, and other natural organic compounds. The examination also included the effect of two concentrations (0.8 and 3M) of nitric acid used to dissolve the metaborate fusion products as preparation for multiple element analyses by inductively coupled argon plasma atomic emission spectrophotometry (ICP-AES). The three methods compared favorably and were able to reproduce a wide range of element concentration values documented for National Institution of Standards and Technology (NIST) mineral and organic samples. Neither lithium metaborate method measured sulfur (S) acceptably, especially in organic material. The sodium carbonate method traditionally uses sulfuric acid for dissolution, and therefore S measurements cannot be included. Also, sodium (Na) could not be included for the carbonate method. There were detection limit problems for measurement of some elements that are naturally present in small quantities in mineral and organic samples due to relatively low emission intensities for ICP-AES, and the greater sensitivity of ICP-mass spectrometry would be needed. There were only small differences between the two concentrations of nitric acid dissolution after metaborate fusion, but 3 M was adopted for routine use. The metaborate fusion with 3 M nitric acid method performed well on the routine analyses of soil samples. These results show that lithium metaborate is a good alternative to sodium carbonate fusion for the measurement of total P and many other elements (except S) in soil and related materials.

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