Stellenbosch University
Welcome to Stellenbosch University
New water and soil facility
Author: Dr J Colling
Published: 30/07/2020

​​A new national facility for water and soil analysis is currently being set up at Stellenbosch University.  The new facility will form one of the nodes of BIOGRIP,  a national research infrastructure platform hosted by UCT and with nodes at several South African institutions. The Stellenbosch BIOGRIP Node for Water and Soil Biogeochemistry will focus on the interdisciplinary study of the chemical, physical, geological and biological processes that influence the environment.

The BIOGeochemistry Research Infrastructure Platform (BIOGRIP) is a new initiative to promote South Africa’s biogeochemistry research by providing access to world class analytical facilities, various training opportunities and generating meaningful datasets by monitoring various biogeochemical environmental variables. BIOGRIP will consist of four nodes based at four universities across South Africa.  Each node will focus on a different aspect of biogeochemistry including Stellenbosch University (Water and Soil Node), University of the Free State (Mineral Node), North-West University (Atmospheric Node) and the University of Cape Town (Isotope Node).

Funding for this initiative was provided by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) as part of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR). The main goal of SARIR is to support the development of advanced infrastructure and cutting-edge analytical facilities to promote high quality and innovative research. BIOGRIP will enable researchers to gain a deeper insight into how human activities in the past have impacted the environment and will also enable us to evaluate the impact of current practices on these areas, in the future. The study of earth and the environment was listed as one of the national research priorities and strategic goals for SARIR. Prof Sarah Fawcett (Department of Oceanography) at UCT and Prof Jodie Miller (Department of Earth Science) at SU were the co-champions of the BIOGRIP proposal. The BIOGRIP hub, which will coordinate and manage the platform, will be based at UCT with Prof Judith Sealy as the Director.

Expanding Analytical Services 

Currently, a selection of water and soil analytical services are offered by CAF units such as the ICP and XRF unit. 
The water and soil facility will focus on providing standard analytical services and access to new state-of-the-art equip­ment. The unit will house an Ion Chromatography (IC) system from Metrohm. The unit will also feature advanced instruments for conducting the analysis of hydrogen and oxygen stable isotopes.

Training and research opportunities

The unit will focus on providing researchers and post-graduate students with technical support to perform research projects. Clients from higher education institutes and the private and public sector will be able to submit samples for routine analysis. Students will have the option to receive hands-on training on all instruments during various training opportunities. This will empower them with the necessary advanced skills to operate instruments, conduct experiments and to develop new analytical methods that are not currently available in South Africa. 

We invite anyone interested to follow the CAF website or Facebook page or send an email to to receive updates and relevant information. We look forward to develop the new facility into an excellent training and research facility, which will enable world-class research that can compete and contribute on the global arena and advance our knowledge of biogeochemistry.

For more information view the story in the CAF Annual Report page 7 (click here)​

photo by Datamax​