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Quality Assured

The quality and accuracy of the tests conducted is of paramount importance. All other factors, including speed of service, value for money and so on, count for nothing if the results are wrong.

To ensure accuracy day in, day out, NRM has a robust internal quality system. At the heart of this system is accreditation by UKAS to the internationally recognised standard for competence – ISO/IEC 17025. UKAS accreditation is specific to particular sample types and methods. The accreditation we hold covers a range of chemical tests in the agricultural and environment sectors.

NRM also participates fully in a range of performance testing schemes including Food Analysis Performance Assessment Scheme (FAPAS) and is approved by the Organics Recycling Group for the testing of composted waste under the BSI PAS 100 Certification Scheme. The company is also approved by the Renewable Energy Association for the testing of anaerobic digestate under the BSI PAS 110 Certification Scheme and holds a Defra licence to import, move and keep foreign soil and plant tissue for physical and chemical testing.

NRM Standards

Laboratory quality control and assurance standards are essential if data generated is to have meaning and value.

NRM has systems and protocols in place to assure the quality of all its analytical data. Quality assurance follows the sample from receipt, throughout its analysis, to the point at which results data are reported. It also covers the laboratory's analytical and data management systems.

United Kingdom Accreditation Service

ISO 17025:2005 is the British, European and International Standard for quality assurance in analytical laboratories. In the UK, laboratories claiming compliance with this standard are inspected and accredited by UKAS. Accreditation also means that the laboratory's management systems meet the principles of ISO 9001:2000. Many laboratories achieve ISO 9001:2000 but this certification should not be confused with full UKAS accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025:2005.

The full standard covers quality control procedures and method specific procedures. Although laboratories achieving the standard are regarded as UKAS accredited, accreditation can only be claimed for individual methods that have been inspected and approved by UKAS. A list of accredited methods is given on NRM's UKAS schedule.

Although laboratories in the agricultural sector do not have to work to UKAS standards, NRM believes that achieving this accreditation will reassure customers of the consistently high standard of work carried out.

Proficiency Testing (PT) Schemes

Any laboratory which becomes UKAS accredited to ISO 17025:2005 must demonstrate its ongoing competence by participating in appropriate Proficiency Testing schemes such as FAPAS (for food products), Aquacheck (Agricultural Soils Inorganics Scheme), RTC (BTEX and GROs) and WEPAL.

Samples, spiked with unknown levels of compounds are sent out three or four times a year to the accredited facilities. Laboratories must analyse the samples for the specified analytes and report the results back to the PT Scheme Coordinator.

Each participating laboratory subsequently receives a report containing the results from all participants. Individual laboratories participating in the scheme are provided with a code enabling them to identify their own performance. They are NOT able to specifically identify any other laboratory's results by name.

Individual results are assessed against the mean value that is set by the scheme coordinator and the results are deemed 'acceptable' if their statistically calculated Z scores are within < 2 > of the mean value.

At the annual inspection by UKAS, the laboratory's results from each PT Round will be assessed for ongoing competence. Consistently poor results could result in a particular method being removed from the Accreditation Schedule.

NRM participates in the Performance Testing schemes of:

  • FAPAS (Food Analysis Performance Assessment Scheme)
  • CONTEST (Contaminated Land Testing Scheme)
  • Aquacheck (Agricultural Soils Inorganics Scheme)
  • RTC (BTEX and GROs)
  • WEPAL ISE (Agricultural Soils PT Scheme)
  • WEPAL MARSEP (Agricultural Slurries & Manures)
  • NAPT Scheme (US) for available nutrients in Soil.