SinS - Abstract

Abstract Title: Scrutinising soil: A cost-effective, scalable approach to investigate the behaviour of small molecules in soil ecosystems using chemical sampling probes.
Presenter Name: Mr Abdullah Shahid
Co-authors:Dr Leon Barron
Company/Organisation: Imperial College London
Country: United Kingdom

Abstract Information :

Abdullah Shahid1, Dr Will Pearse2, Dr Helene Fain3, Dr Christopher Sweeney3 and Dr Leon Barron1. 1Imperial College London, Environmental Research Group, School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, 86 Wood Lane, London, W12 0BZ, United Kingdom 2Imperial College London, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Department of Life Sciences (Silwood Park), Berkshire, SL57PY, United Kingdom 3Syngenta, Jealotts Hill International Research Centre, Bracknell, RG42 6EY, United Kingdom. The chemical contamination of soil is a known factor that affects soil degradation, resulting in the loss of crucial topsoil that contains nutrients and high carbon content compounds that enable plant growth. These contaminants also affect the soil's microbiome, having been known to reduce the diversity of soil microbiota which in turn affects plant growth and carbon cycling. As the population of the planet continues to grow so does the demand for sustainable food sources. Therefore, optimising the conditions required for soil to grow crops in high yields is crucial to match these rising needs. For this reason, more research attention needs to be directed at understanding the mechanisms behind soil erosion, so that the solutions can be found to enable the process of remediation. Currently, the fates and behaviour of most anthropogenic chemicals in undisturbed soils are vastly unknown due to the lack of affordable and scalable technologies as well as high-throughput chemical analysis that allows for an in-depth examination of specific chemicals in complex matrices such as soil. Passive sampling devices (PSD) have been used extensively in other environmental matrices such as air and water. However, they have not been utilised in soil matrices’ until now. Rapid prototyping of PSDs can be performed using 3D printing technologies, enabling optimisation of their design for deployment in soils. This project aims to provide a proof-of-concept methodology that uses PSDs to characterise the behaviour of selected plant protection products (PPP) in soil. These PPPs will be investigated by employing a combination of extraction techniques and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Chemical analysis and quantification at defined time points will be utilised to elucidate the persistence, transport behaviour and transformation potential of the PPPs in soil. PSD extracts and soil samples will be prepared via solid-phase extraction (SPE) techniques. Artificial rainwater and leachate samples will be analysed using a rapid direct injection method on the instrument. System performance parameters such as linearity and recoveries will be presented from soil leachate and artificial rainwater, used as a baseline, in order to show method suitability before sample analysis. In conclusion, this project has the potential to pave the way for a beyond-state-of-the-art sampling technique that can be rapidly upscaled for global use. When applied on a large scale, multiple PSD probes can be dispatched quickly and easily, enabling rapid visualisation of the condition of the soil. A technique like this is a high priority requirement for governments and the agricultural industries alike.