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School of Engineering, Information Technology and Physical Sciences

Development of a novel soil-fertility assay

Project Title:

Development of a novel soil-fertility assay


Assoc. Professor Vince Verheyen

Contact person and email address:

Assoc. Professor Vince Verheyen

A brief description of the project:

The existing technology for assessing soil fertility is based on easy-to-measure chemical analyses including elements, trace elements and nutrients. There is a need for more reliable assays or indicators of soil health and fertility. VOC emissions from soils reflect their bioactivity and chemistry. Some possible approaches include the use of statistical or machine-learning software to correlate VOC (volatile organic compound) signature and/or molecular biology (eg, nucleic acid sequencing) with respiration, germination and growth rates in soil microcosms.

Available resources

  • Advanced analytical techniques for sampling and measuring VOCs
  • Chromatography-based statistics software (Mass Profiler Pro)
  • Opportunities to collaborate with experienced molecular biologists

Potential industrial impact: Better information to facilitate agricultural decisions
Potential industry partners: Ecocatalyst
Technology Readiness Level 2. The tools proposed for this project are commercially available but, to our knowledge, they have not been applied to this problem.