Bringing the lab to the field — Sugar Beet Research Centre’s experience with our portable gas analyzer
Finland’s Sugar Beet Research Centre (Sokerijuurikkaan tutkimuskeskus, SjT) needed to gather high-quality information on how sugar beets capture and release C02 and other greenhouse gases in the cultivation process. As the gas concentrations must be measured on the field, our portable GT5000 Terra FTIR analyzer was their best bet to get the job done.
The Sugar Beet Research Centre in Finland faced a few challenges when they set out to study the sugar beet crop’s impact on climate work, as part of The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Finland’s Nappaa hiilestä kiinni (Catch the Carbon) project.
They needed to reliably measure greenhouse gases in sugar beet cultivation — not an easy task considering the effects of different factors like the lifecycle of the plant and the weather conditions.
“We needed to show how sugar beet takes part in carbon capture and improves the results of crop rotation. Besides C02, we were interested in other gases that might be released from soil during cultivation such as methane, ammonia and dinitrogen oxide”, SjT director Susanna Muurinen explains.
Alongside sugar beet, winter wheat was introduced to the project too as it is a common companion plant for sugar beet. Together they create a long-term coverage of the field.
A major challenge, however, was finding the right analyzer that could give them reliable measurements on the field. The search ended with our portable GT5000 Terra FTIR analyzer.
Sending samples to a laboratory was not an option
“Our research centre has no laboratory of its own”, Muurinen says. “Transporting the samples far away to another laboratory increases the risk of false readings. That’s how we realized we need an analyzer that will show the result in the field then and there.”
The decision however came with its set of doubts. “Our earlier experience was that field analyzers aren’t always as reliable – is this number really what we measured?” Muurinen says.
The Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) and staff from the University of Helsinki however shared their good experience with Gasmet’s portable analyzers and their usage in scientific fieldwork.
SjT chose the portable, splashproof model GT5000 Terra, designed to deliver laboratory-level accurate measurements in demanding field work. And it did just that.
Ease of use and portability of the world’s smallest FTIR analyzer
The actual study on the sugar beet field was conducted during Autumn 2021 — a time when oxygen production and carbon capture was at a peak. A small chamber system was built on the field, and GT5000 Terra was attached to it. The air from the chamber was circulated through the analyzer, which measured the amounts of each gas in the air.
“The analyzer is very handy and lightweight to carry to the field, where the actual work happens. Afterwards, you can come inside and check the readings easily”, says Muurinen.
May we also add the analyzer does weigh only 9.4kg and comes with a backpack harness?
The team that was trained to use the analyzer found it very easy to operate. The instructions were unambiguous and new workers learned to use the analyzer quickly.
“GT5000 Terra analyzer produces reliable results. We are very pleased and have got all the information we needed to retrieve from the fields,” Muurinen says.
She also praises the help and support that the team received from Gasmet.
“Having a local product, proper guidance, and maintenance are important to us, especially with as valuable a product as this.”
And the results? Some sweet, sweet data!
Thanks to the data collected, the team at SjT learned that winter wheat and sugar beet are indeed good at capturing carbon dioxide from the air.
“On the other hand, small amounts of carbon dioxide were released from the soil with no plant coverage. The results varied from day to day. Colder temperature slows down the process of both storing and releasing carbon dioxide. More so with winter wheat,” Muurinen says.
GT5000 Terra’s job however does not end there. The plan is to further improve the chamber’s structure and take measurements with the analyzer throughout the growing season next year. Also, the effect of different cultivation techniques will be examined.
Muurinen emphasizes how GT5000 Terra has positively met their expectations. SjT will now be able to calculate the carbon balance of sugar beet, and with the help of our analyzer eventually maximize the carbon capture in the demanding, northern environment.