What is Soil Digestion?

Quantifying  trace elements present in sediments, soils, and brownfields is critical for a wide range of research areas. Carrying out an analysis of trace concentrations is a multi-step process that begins with sample acquisition and ends with analysis of its chemistry. While systems and instruments used in different workflows vary, a critical intermediary step for all analytical processes is digestion.

What is Soil Digestion?

Briefly: Soil digestion refers to a sample preparation methodology where reagents and heat are used to break down physical matrices to yield homogeneous solutions. Dissolving the sample in this manner enables researchers to carry out full chemical quantifications via different forms of elemental analysis. 

Soil digestion is the leading sample preparation technique for determining the concentrations of both organic and inorganic compounds in environmental samples. Selecting the right digestion process for your application can have a significant positive impact on results accuracy, cost, and throughput.

Key Applications of Soil Digestion

Soil digestion is used to quantify the trace elements present in sediments and soils for a wide variety of objectives. A few examples are included below, but this list is not intended as an exhaustive review of soil digestion applications.


Commercial farms increasingly leverage precision analytical systems to assist with quality assurance and control. Determinations of soil quality are now a matter of course for many agricultural operations and soil digestion is an important part of this analytical workflow. Soil samples are routinely prepared and analyzed to determine the concentrations of fertilizers like nitrates and phosphates in soils.


Analysis of soil samples from at-risk environments or land to be reclaimed and reused is the cornerstone of ecological assessment. Scientists must first know precisely what is in the soil and at what concentrations before they can make recommendations regarding stewardship and land reclamation. Furthermore, environmental assessment through elemental analysis requires a multitude of samples from many locations within the area being analysed calling for sample digestion methods that are fast, accurate and economical.

Soil Digestion with ColdBlock

At ColdBlock Technologies, we have pioneered a cutting-edge digestion system that is well-suited to soil digestion and improves upon key metrics for soil. If you would like to learn more about how our proprietary ColdBlock digester has been used in agriculture and environmental monitoring to date, why not contact a member of the team today?