I was able to shadow scientists in the Grain Quality and Nutrition Services Lab (GQNSL) for three days. Here, they test the quality of grain, water, soil and plant samples submitted and also evaluate the nutritional contents found within those particular samples. Since the project of my assigned team involves Zinc concentration found within the grain, I mainly focused on the ICP-OES, or the Inductively Coupled Plasma – Optical Emission Spectrometer. This machine is able to test bulk amounts of samples, while analyzing the concentrations of up to twelve elements per sample.
Along with learning about the analysis of macro/micronutrients using the ICP-OES, I was able to examine the amylose content test. I posted a few images below with captions of the main overview of the test. I will save those non-scientists the trouble of reading through the protocol and not explain it in this post. The general take-away from my time in this department is an understanding of what is required in producing an efficient crop that farmers and consumers desire.