Rapid analysis of elemental concentrations in compost via portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometry

Amanda McWhirt, David C. Weindorf, Yuanda Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The importance of compost testing for heavy metals and plant essential nutrients is vital to preventing the transport of toxic elemental loads and imperative to successful marketing of composted products. As such, a method to more efficiently test the elemental composition of compost would aid producers and compost analysis labs in evaluating and certifying the material prior to use. The use of portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) spectrometry for elemental compost analysis was investigated, to build on previous research, analyze technological improvements, test applicability of the technology on a wide range of compost types, and quantify the influence of moisture, particle size, organic matter and interelemental interactions on scan results. Several elements, specifically Ca, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, Mn, P, and Zn showed the most potential for analysis via PXRF in dried samples. Arsenic detection was found to be limited by the influence of Pb levels in the samples. Great potential for widespread evaluation and some definitive quantification of elemental concentrations via PXRF is recommended by this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-193
Number of pages9
JournalCompost Science and Utilization
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012


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