The Soil Testing Laboratory has an Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectrometer (ICP-AES) for analyzing extracts of soil, plant and other materials for the concentrations of 68 elements. See Limits of detection (PDF) for ideal analytical ranges. The ICP instrument is a Spectro ARCOS SOP (Side-On [or radial view of the] Plasma interface) made by Spectro Analytical Instruments, Inc. For multiple, sequential (short-term) measurements, relative standard deviations (RSD) or coefficient of variation (CV) are typically less than 2% for concentrations higher than background equivalent concentrations (BEC). The following sections outline procedures and costs for researchers to submit samples for analysis.

Sample Preparation

Samples to be analyzed must be extracted/digested by the researcher and delivered in a clear aqueous solution form, along with information of sample type and solution matrix. Some sample preparation procedures include EPA methods 3010A, 3015, 3050A and 3051, (search for SW-846A). If one wishes to have blanks, replicates, spikes, or reference checks analyzed, then these should be submitted as additional samples. Samples with suspended particles, hydrofluoric acid or radioactive materials are not acceptable. The laboratory retains the right to refuse samples. At least 25 ml of solution should be submitted per sample. Sufficient volume of blank solution may be required for standard preparation. Please contact Athena Tilley for the appropriate volume needed.

Scheduling of Work

All ICP analytical work must be scheduled in advance. Contact Athena Tilley in Room 143 Smyth Hall (231-9806 or to set up a time. Analyses will be scheduled so as to minimize sample storage.

Note - samples will not be accepted without prior scheduling.

Sample Charges

Contact for current charges

A fee will be charged for all analytical work done. A HokieMart (ISR) PO number using account code 1244R and "VT Soil Testing Lab – ICP Analysis" as the Supplier is required before any work is done. The cost of analysis depends upon the number of elements requested per sample and the total number of samples. Additional charges may be necessary under certain conditions to defray the cost of analysis.

Cost per element per sample:

Federal Funds or Virginia State Universities


Other Universities Outside Virginia$2.36

NOTE: There is a $40.00 minimum charge per job.

Prices are subject to change.


Virginia Tech Soil Testing Laboratory
145 Smyth Hall
Blacksburg, VA  24061-0465
Phone: (540) 231-9806