A bulk sample should be thoroughly mixed until homogeneous, then a sub-sample taken. There are two main ways to achieve this when dealing with solid samples. First, there is the manual cone and quartering method. A spoon-shaped spatula is used to take portions randomly from the bulk sample, which are then transferred to a clean surface to form a new conical pile. Each successive portion is poured on to the apex of the cone until the entire heap has been transferred. The cone is then flattened, divided into quarters, and opposite quarters removed. These are mixed to form a smaller conical pile, and again quartered. This is repeated until a sample of suitable weight is obtained (Jeffery et al., 1989, p. 154; MAFF/ADAS, 1986, p. 2). A variation on this method is to place the sample in the centre of a square sheet of paper and thoroughly mix by alternately lifting opposite corners of the paper so as to roll the sample particles towards the centre, rather than allowing them to slide. The pile is made approximately circular and quartered as above (Triebold, 1946).

Second, easily flowing granules or powder may be riffled. This is recommended for fertilizers (Johnson, 1990b). Riffle boxes (sample dividers or splitters) are available to BS812 and BS1377 from:

A.J. Cope & Son Ltd, 11/12 The Oval, Hackney Road, London E2 9DU, UK

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7729 2405 Fax: +44 (0) 20 7729 2657 E-mail: [email protected] also from Merck [VWR International at], and larger ones from Fritsch. A rotary cone type sample divider would probably be too sophisticated for fertilizers, plants and soils, with the simpler manually operated types being adequate. Cresser (1990) recommends a chute splitter or spinning riffler for environmental samples. Pascall Engineering Co. Ltd market the Rotary Wholestream,

(see: sampling.htm).

This divider is intended mainly for providing samples for chemical analysis. The samples are taken from a moving stream of powder by a set of rotating stainless steel containers, the powder being fed from an adjustable hopper onto a vibrating feeder. They also make the Centrifugal, which is used mainly for seed samples and is used by the Official Seed Testing Station of England and Wales and by seed merchants and seed associations throughout the world. The Rules for Seed Testing, issued by the International Seed Testing Association (, give details of the unit and its use. Gross samples can be divided in seconds, and the model is suitable for all but the chaffiest of seeds.

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