Work 8x faster with top nutrient analyzers of Skalar

Pieter Vos director Nutrilab Agro

With the purchase and installation of two Skalar nutrient analyzers for agricultural samples, Nutrilab-Agro now has ten fully automatic applications. Advantages are the shorter lead times, quick results and the larger capacity.

Labinsights February 2022 - Marjan Hammink | photography Marco Vellinga

With the two new, dual machines, Nutrilab-Agro now has five interchangeable chemical modules and photometric detectors that can be used simultaneously. The lab that processes large numbers of (manure) samples can fully deploy 2 x 5 applications and work 8 times as fast daily with the same number of employees. Calculations are no longer done in Excel, but the system itself does it.

30 years of experience

The Nutrilab-Agro laboratory has a traditional position with strong roots in the agricultural sector. Nutrilab-Agro was created from a collaboration between Van De Meerakker Service and Nutrilab, with two locations in the province of North Brabant. The company has 65 years of experience in laboratory analyses; specifically within agricultural sampling, the company now has 30 years. The company processes material from companies in livestock farming, arable farming and horticulture as well as contractors. With the introduction of manure accounting in the late 1980s and the resulting mineral declaration system (MINAS) in 1998, the fundamental realization dawned on agricultural entrepreneurs that many, regular and meticulous laboratory analyses had to be carried out by an independent lab at a short distance.

Solid chain

The desire to be close to the customer is expressed in both the location and the approach. Pieter Vos, director of Nutrilab-Agro, is very clear about this: “You prefer to serve the customer in-house and no longer outsource the analyses.” Due to qualitatively reliable analyses in our own lab, short lead times and open communication are fixed data: essential and a duty for a solid chain. “The equipment that can process this material has been supplied by Skalar for years,” Vos
says: “We have been working with it for 30 years, there is simply no comparable system. The principle remains the same, of course, but over the years we have seen that everything has become faster, better and more robust.” With the purchase and installation of two analyzers, a total of no less than 10 different applications are available.


Agricultural companies are obliged to take (or have taken) samples of manure, roughage for the so-called silage analysis, soil or soil sampling and (cattle) drinking water in accordance with a fixed protocol. These samples can be examined chemically as well as microbiologically. There are different analysis packages for each type of sample. The two modular continuous flow analyzers (CFAs) set up in Giessen are specifically used for soil and water analyses for the nutrients nitrate, nitrite, pH, sulphate, ammonium, and total nitrogen, but also the parameters for the fertilizer analysis samples for nitrogen. , phosphorus and potassium-MINAS samples (NPK) after and offline digestion, in accordance with NEN 7433.

Stijn Snijders technician at Nutrilab Agro

“You have to see it this way, for example we always want to be able to serve a livestock farmer in the right way,” Vos clarifies. “With the two new machines – both with double needles – this is possible. The systems we have each have their own, different tasks. They both have five interchangeable chemical modules and photometric detectors that can be used simultaneously.

“They both have 5 applications and we are fully deploying all 10 of them”

You are talking about 2 x 5 applications and we fully deploy all 10 of them,” says Vos. When it comes to numbers, Vos can roughly indicate a bandwidth: “We usually have 300 samples in the autosampler and it can handle between 500 and 1000 samples per day.”

Looking back, Vos can only speak of a pleasant commissioning of the two nutrient analyzers. “For our employees, it was a nice new addition to the existing analysis arsenal. In terms of guidance, I can only be positive.” The accompanying software speaks for itself: “Literally everything is already included and of course everything just works 24/7, you don't need timers.

The FlowAccess software package controls the entire analyzer. This applies to automatic start-up, function control, autoscaling, to pre- and post-dilutions, result and statistical processing. 1 to 16 channels can be determined simultaneously for multiple samples and the possibility to group chemical applications.

Mineral concentrate
Looking to the future, Vos sees growth opportunities: “Certainly with a view to so-called law-driven analyses, we see growth mainly in soil and manure. Mineral concentrate is also on the rise as a fertilizer substitute among livestock farmers and arable farmers. It is a product that remains after manure processing, with hardly any phosphate, but a good nitrogen level and a large proportion of potassium. It is also often financially attractive compared to fertilizer"


Skalar samplers offer a high degree of automation including:

  • Analysis runs with automatic pre- and post-dilutions
  • Fully automated standards creation
  • Automatic discrete reagent addition
  • Multiple Ranges
  • Independent flush pump
  • Customer-specific sample vessels
  • Automatic barcode reader
  • Multiple Sample Needles
  • Operation outside standard business hours with automatic start-up and shutdown
  • Full analyzer control

The 7 benefits of the switch

  • Acceleration of the flow rate of the analyses in the lab.
  • Automatic distillation and titration (faster, more accurate).
  • 8x faster than the old method
  • The analyst who now operates the CFA can make other determinations in the meantime.
  • Waste stream many times smaller.
  • Transferring results into LIMS system much easier.
  • Calculations processed in supplied software