Soil test interpretation - one day course - 2 September 2019

EAL and SoilCare are excited to present a short course on interpretation of soil test reports.

Graham Lancaster from EAL and Alan Coates of Coates Horticulture will present seminars on data interpretation and how this data can be used to manage a biological farming system.

The short course will be held at Southern Cross University, Lismore Campus, on Monday 2 September 2019.

9.30 am Registration and coffee
10.00 am Soil test interpretation
11.00 am Lab tours or Q&A
12.30 pm Lunch
1.30 pm Acting on soil test results
2.30 to 3.00 pm Lab tours or Q&A

Spaces are limited and bookings essential. The $30 ticket includes lunch. For more information contact Kieran Livermore on 0487 394 164 or by email to  or download the EAL-SoilCare one day workshop flyer


SETAC 2019 Conference - 7 to 10 July

EAL is pleased to provide silver sponsorship to the upcoming SETAC conference, 7 to 10 July. Graham Lancaster, director and laboratory manager, is looking forward to joining national and international delegates in Darwin. The theme of the conference, “Protecting and improving the environment through collaboration – across disciplines and across borders”, fits perfectly with the work the lab undertakes. EAL collaborates with stakeholders across Australia and overseas to choose appropriate methods for quality assured provision of data.

EAL routinely conducts environmental monitoring of waters for physicochemical parameters, metals, contamination, nutrients, salts, bacteria and algal biomass.

In addition to routine testing, EAL specialises in:

  • Dissolved organic carbon
  • Stable isotope 
  • Total and dissolved metals and salts to trace levels
  • Speciation of antimony, arsenic, chromium and mercury

If you would like to meet up with Graham, feel free to accost him during the conference, or call for a meeting on the sidelines (0419 984 088).

Acid sulfate soils - professional short course, March and July 2019

The Environmental Analysis Laboratory and Southern Cross GeoScience are offering a series of short course for professionals responsible for assessing and managing acid sulfate soils, in accordance with the new National Acid Sulfate Soils Guidance.

The first course will be held at the Southern Cross University Gold Coast campus from the 28 to 29 March, 2019. This second course will follow on 25 to 26 July, 2019

The program is designed for professionals such as consultants, engineers, contractors, scientists,
environmental officers and planners.

The course includes a series of presentations from leading academics and practitioners, practical exercises examining real-life examples and a field excursion to local acid sulfate soil sites. Overall, the training program has been designed to equip participants with the skills, knowledge and confidence to assess acid sulfate soils in a variety of landscapes. Participants should note the course is specifically designed for professionals with at least a basic understanding of the issue.

An overview of the couse is available, as well as a draft program.

The course will be led by Dr Nick Ward and Graham Lancaster, co-authors of these national guidance documents.

Course costs $1500 (including GST).

Please register your interest at: 

For further information please contact Nick Ward by email or by phone on 02 6620 3466. Places are limited to 30 participants per course. While the March course is now full, the July course still has places available. Additional course dates are currently being finalised.

Understanding your soil analysis - training course - 7 May, 2019

EAL, in combination with Central Queensland Soil Health Systems and Reef Catchments, is pleased to present a full day short course on understanding soil chemistry and the benefits of balanced nutrients in agricultural systems.

Graham Lancaster will be presenting on Tuesday, 7 May 2019, a full day workshop covering a range of topics:

  • Discussions of soil carbon and organic matter and the benefits of compost applications
  • In depth assessment into interpretation of agricultural soil chemistry results
  • Basic assessment of benefits of leaf analysis for assessing nutrient deficiencies
  • Practical exercises into soil test results and understanding application rates related to soil results
  • Field based soil pit observations with interpretation
  • Field based soil assessment for chemistry and biological indicators of soil health (using the Soilcare Soil Health Card)
  • In-field soil chemistry report interpretation.

For more information phone 07 4968 4200.

Australian Biological Farming Conference and Expo, 9-12 Nov 2018

The Australian Biological Farming Conference and Expo is rapidly approaching!

Held at the Southern Cross University Gold Coast campus, from Friday 9th to Monday 12th of November 2018, the conference and expo is set to be an inspiring and informative national event.

In a nexus between science and nature, the Biological Farming Conference will introduce speakers from across the nation and around the world, bringing together experts in the field of biological farming systems along with recognised farmers, producers and service providers.

Details of the plennary and concurrent sessions are now available in the conference program. Some of the esteemed speakers include:

Michael Philips, of Lost Nation Orchard, New Hampshire, USA – a farmer, writer, and orchard consultant, who grows apples and a variety of medicinal herbs. Phillips offers insight into how to make plants and their fungal partners prosper, presenting complex mycorrhizal science in lay terms. Author of Mycorrhizal Planet: How Fungi and Plants Work Together to Create Dynamic Soils.

Jeff Moyer of Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania, USA – a world renowned authority in biological and organic agriculture, with a focus on weed management, cover crops, crop rotations, equipment modification and use, and facilities design. Author of Organic No-Till Farming (2011).

Prof Carlo Leifert - Director, Centre for Organics Research at Southern Cross University – previous Director of the Nafferton Ecological Farming Group at Newcastle University, England. Leifert has wide experience as a course director, establishing courses in organic farming and food production systems and sustainable farming and food security.

Prof Susanne Schmidt – University of Queensland School of Agriculture and Food Sciences – an ecophysiologist, educator and fellow of the Alexander von Hmumboldt Foundation, who leads a team researching natural ecosystems and agro-ecosystems at the interface of plants, microbes and soils.

Rob Hinrichsen of Kalfresh – responsible for one of the biggest vegetable farming operations in Queensland. Hinrichsen has focussed on controlled traffic farming, the use of compost and biological fertilisers, cover crops and integrated pest management to improve soil health and farm productivity.

Nick Kelly, broadacre farmer from Western Australia – a farmer who has created a weather resilient farming system that enhances soil health, sequesters carbon, reduces erosion, increases moisture retention, reduces chemical use and improves crop yields.

Dan Falkenberg, Barossa Valley’s Viticulturist of the Year for 2018 – a vigneron who embraces water saving techniques to improve yield and benefit soil health. Falkenberg discusses techniques like vine straw mulching, composting and the use of soil moisture monitoring proves for real time decision making, the blending of compost to suit specific soil types and the use of native grasses to enhance vineyard biodiversity, improve soil biota and soil water infiltration.

Dr Neil Wilson, postdoctoral research fellow, Sydney School of Agriculture – a specialist and communicator in molecular biology and the ecology of agriculturally relevant microorganisms.

EAL has a long history of working with environmental and agricultural managers to provide quality results for baseline data and farm management. We are excited to be part of the conversation, and look forward to discussing how laboratory analysis can make a practical difference to regenerative farming.

National Soils Conference, 18-23 Nov 2018

The National Soils Conference 2018 is nearly here!

EAL will be joining national and international delegates at Australia’s premier soils conference in Canberra from Sunday 18th to Friday 23rd November.

Focussing on sustainable soil management, the conference will present ‘quality science and first hand experiences in land management’. The breadth of experience is evident in key note speakers and their presentation topics:

Dr Penelope Wensley, Patron of Soil Science Australia. Former Governor of Queensland.  Professional diplomat – Soil Science responsibilities in the 21th Century

Dr Michele Barson, Science Adviser, Sustainable Resource Management Division, Department of Agriculture – Maintaining soil condition and ecosystem services in the Australian environment

Philip Glyde, Chief Executive, Agriculture and Water Resources, Murray-Darling Basin Authority – Balancing the Murray-Darling Basin’s water resources

Philip Mulvey, CEO, Environmental Earth Sciences International – Balancing risk and opportunities for ‘contaminated’ soils

G Vadakattu, Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO – Soil microbiology and biology both from management perspective and ‘biological fingerprinting’

Adjunct Professor Annette Cowie, Principal Research Scientist NSW DPI – Soil science in a changing world: Meeting the challenges of climate change and land degradation. Presented as the Harald Jensen Lecture for 2018.

Dr Lisa Lobry de Bruyn, Senior Lecturer, University of New England – Connecting soils knowledge to the community: the reasons and means

Professor Alexander McBratney, Professor of Digital Agriculture & Soil Science, Director, Sydney Institute of Agriculture, The University of Sydney – Soil Science in the future: Adding value and security in the 21st Century

To round out the conference there are a wide range of field trips and workshops scheduled. Online conference registrations close 12th November.

EAL has been part of the national conversation for almost 25 years, providing quality data to underpin land management decision making. EAL staff will be present at our exhibit over the course of the week… we would love to have a chat with you.

Australian Macadamia Conference, 13-15 Nov 2018

EAL is looking forward to attending the upcoming 2018 Australian Macadamia Industry Conference from Tuesday 13th to Thursday 15th November (Royal Pines Resort Gold Coast, Qld). The conference brings together delegates from Australia and around the world to discuss the latest developments in industry and cutting edge research…

‘At AusMac2018 you will gain valuable insight and knowledge into the global industry, learn about innovation and new products, share ideas, talk to levy-funded researchers and industry suppliers and connect with other growers and industry reps. The program comprises a great mix of practical workshops, information sessions with experts covering all the key and emerging issues, on-site trade and machinery expos (over 60 exhibitors!) and social networking.’

For more information, download the program or visit the conference website.

New national acid sulfate soil guidance documents - June 2018

For the first time in Australia, acid sulfate soil guidance documents have been produced for national use. Published on the new Water Quality Australia website, the guidance documents provide the framework and tools to manage these soils and their effect on water quality.

Co-authored by Nick Ward, Nadia Toppler and Graham Lancaster of the Environmental Analysis Laboratory, in collaboration with Professor Leigh Sullivan of Federation University, publication of these documents puts EAL at the forefront of acid sulfate soil analysis in Australia.

The following documents provide guidance on identification, field sampling and laboratory analysis of acid sulfate soils, and management of monosulfidic black oozes.

National acid sulfate soils sampling and identification methods manual

National acid sulfate soils identification and laboratory methods manual

Overview and management of monosulfidic black ooze (MBO) accumulations in waterways and wetlands

Other relevant publications published as part of the National Acid Sulfate Soil Guidance program include:

National strategy for the management of coastal acid sulfate soils

National guidance for the management of acid sulfate soils in inland aquatic ecosystems

Guidance for the dewatering of acid sulfate soils in shallow groundwater environments

Guidelines for the dredging of acid sulfate soil sediments and associated dredge spoil management


For more information on the use of the field sampling guide and laboratory methods manual, refer to the EAL acid sulfate soil information page.


Two new PhD scholarships sponsored by EAL

The Environmental Analysis Laboratory is excited to be sponsoring two PhD scholarships at Southern Cross University.

 The preferred areas of study are:

  • Organic Agriculture Research
  • Flood Mitigation
  • Coastal Engineering
  • Food  Security
  • Environmental Contamination
  • Renewable Energy
  • Global Change

Topics for study and supervisors have been finalised.

 The 2018 value of the full-time Scholarship Stipend is AUD $27,082 per annum. This amount is indexed annually. The selection criteria and details of these scholarships are advertised on the Southern Cross University Graduate School website. Written applications detailing the information relevant to the selection criteria to be sent to

Closing date: Midnight 11 May 2018

For further information please contact: Graham Lancaster (EAL)

National Biological Farming Conference in Cairns, 2016

The 2016 National Biological Farming Conference took place in Cairns, Queensland, from the 28th to 30th October 2016. The two day conference was followed by on-farm workshops through The Cairns Institute (James Cook University). This conference offered a huge range of options for agricultural change.

EAL is a foundation sponsor for the event and hosted a booth at the Expo. The conference facilitated the sharing of important information on the success and future potential for major changes in agriculture. The EAL booth was managed by Kris Saville, our Agricultural Co-ordinator. Kris was available to discuss how our analytical testing is used to actively manage farming systems.

At EAL we started in chemical analysis, associated with biological and organic farming, to quantify the benefits and sustainability of this natural farming practise. Within the School of Environment, Science and Engineering, at Southern Cross University, we were routinely exposed to the negative environmental impacts from traditional farming practices and instantly realised the need for major improvements in the industry.

For further information on agricultural soil and plant testing you can call Kris Saville on 0437 016 017. To discuss the use of Australian Standards compost and growing media testing please contact Brian Smith on 0437 016 091.

EAL 2018 Price Lists

EAL is pleased to release a new Price List with additional testing.

The Full Analytical Services price list, and accompanying abbreviated versions, are available in the Document Download section.

These will become effective on the 1st May, 2018.

The new Edition 18.1.1, supersedes all previous price lists. However, current client quotes stay in effect until their expiry date.

EAL delivers quality soil testing and plant testing results in half the time

EAL is proud to announce a rapid testing service enabling us to produce reports much quicker than before. You have requested the change and we have listened. We are now able to provide quality analytical data in half the time, thanks to a couple of small processing changes.

We have placed a focus on reducing the aggregate size of samples before drying, reducing oven time and allowing samples to be tested much sooner. We have also put funds into automating our instrumentation for a high throughput of samples. Installing an ESI FAST auto-sampler system on our Perkin Elmer ICPOES is an example of one of the setups that allows rapid sample analysis and data delivery.

For further information on agricultural soil and plant testing, please contact Kris Saville on 0437 016 017.

agricultural soil testing turn around times

EAL specialises in trace metal analysis in seawater

Seawater is notoriously difficult to analyse due to matrix interferences leading to false positives and compromised detection limits. Many laboratories face the challenge of analysing complex matrices with high total dissolved solids. To meet this challenge, EAL installed a Perkin Elmer NexION 300D Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICPMS) coupled to an ESI seaFAST sampling module. This instrument setup enables the analysis of seawater to trace (ppb) and ultra-trace (ppt) concentrations.

EAL holds NATA accreditation for this analysis and can discuss specific project requirements to provide the best possible data. To ensure the highest level of accuracy we have provided water detection, preservation and sampling guidelines (pdf) and outlined our capabilities in the trace metals in seawater flyer.

For further information, please contact Matt Pocock our ICP specialist on 0400 767 139.


EAL offers compost, potting mix and landscape soils testing according to Australian Standards

EAL is excited to be part of the recycled organics revolution. We have been involved in this industry for over 20 years. EAL contributes to industry development through the Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA).

Our compost flyer (pdf) lists the tests available to meet the requirements of Australian Standards for compost and mulch (AS4454), potting mix (AS3743) and landscape soils (AS4419). Discounted testing packs are available for each of the standards. We also customise analytical suites for initial and validation (maturity) testing on client request. We provide certificates of analysis that take into account the various exemptions and orders issued by the Environmental Protection Authority.

Each standard includes a combination of physical, chemical and contaminant tests:

  • physical - moisture, pH, EC, wettability, large particles, particle size, bulk density, toxicity, permeability, dispersibility, air-filled porosity, water holding capacity
  • chemical - total C/N, dissolved nutrients (nitrate, ammonia, phosphate), Nitrogen Drawdown Index, total and available nutrients (Na, K, Ca, Mg, P, S, Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu, B)
  • contaminants - pathogens (faecal coliforms, salmonella), low level pesticides (OC, PCB), heavy metals (Hg, Pb, Ni, Cd, C, Se, As, Zn, Cu).

EAL also provides over 20 years' experience in agricultural, environmental and contamination testing which complements Australian Standards testing.

For further enquiries, please contact Brian Smith, our Growing Media Coordinator on 0437 016 091.

EAL Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA)

EAL provides rapid turn-around for human and animal hair testing. A suite of analyses historically sent overseas, hair testing can now be done right here at EAL in a fraction of the time. A suite of 32 elements has been selected, in consultation with industry experts, to suit both personal and agricultural pursuits. EAL regularly participates in international proficiency trials, with exceptional results, to ensure quality results provide peace of mind.

A sample collection and preservation fact sheet (pdf) has been developed to ensure the highest level of accuracy. For further information, please contact us here at EAL.

EAL metal speciation capabilities - arsenic, chromium, mercury, antimony

Speciation analysis is increasingly relevant in food, environmental and pharmaceutical products. In these applications, total elemental concentration is not enough. Separation of compounds and quantitative analysis of toxic species provides a greater understanding of environmental and health related impacts.

EAL has developed methods for speciation of arsenic and mercury in water, soil and biota to sub parts per billion (ppb) levels. Analysis is undertaken on a Perkin Elmer NexION 350D Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICPMS) coupled to a Flexar High Pressure Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC) speciation system. EAL is currently developing the methods for chromium and antimony.

For further information, please contact Matt Pocock our ICP specialist on 0400 767 139.