Having been awarded the ISO 17025 accreditation in December last year for its precision agriculture laboratory, testing services provider Intertek now considers itself to be at the forefront of soil testing in Africa, says sub-Saharan Africa agri services regional manager Charles Botha.
The development process of Intertek’s Bapsfontein-based laboratory, in Ekurhuleni, took 17 months from design to first commercial samples, Botha tells Engineering News. The laboratory started operating in 2013.
“Our precision agriculture laboratory is among the first laboratories in South Africa to obtain an ISO 17025 accreditation for soil nutrition testing. This accreditation offers our clients quality assurance and provides the guarantee that they will receive reliable testing services.”
Botha adds that laboratory accreditation is regarded as a reliable indicator of technical competence and carries weight with local and international clients. He says accredited laboratories are required to use criteria and procedures specifically developed to determine technical competence, thus promising customers accurate and reliable data.
“In addition, Intertek has a wide network of offices and laboratories throughout sub-Saharan Africa and this footprint enables us to offer services to a wide geographical client base.”
The accreditation, granted through the South African National Accreditation System, comprises chemical and microbiological analyses conducted in accordance with ISO/IEC 1725:2005. These analyses are performed at the lab on soil, fertilisers, water, feed and food.
Botha says precision farming includes expertise that can increase agricultural output, such as yield per hectare, while reducing costly inputs.
“Receiving the accreditation is a notable achievement for our laboratory and a recognition of Intertek’s commitment to providing best-in-class expertise in upstream agricultural services,” he adds.
The lab also tests food and agricultural products for potentially harmful food-borne microorganisms, including pathogens like Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus, as well as spoilage organisms such as yeasts and moulds. In addition, it provides chemical testing of moisture, fat, protein and ash content.
“The Intertek laboratory’s capabilities, expertise and technology provide our clients with the support needed to help produce safe, high-quality products that meet food safety regulations and customer requirements,” says Botha.