ABOUT PROTELLUS

ProTellus Ltd. is a small and rapidly developing research enterprise focused on soil, soil quality, soil impact assessments, and land use change. In the few years since its establishment, the company has participated in two EU-funded projects as a subcontractor. The tasks carried out by ProTellus mainly involved the environmental role of soils, soil pollution in the urban environment, and the preservation of top-quality agricultural land. The company’s analyses of soil parameters, soil management, and the modelling of environmental and spatial data have greatly assisted various stakeholders in the relevant spatial planning processes. ProTellus has gained good contacts with Slovenian municipalities and research institutions in the course of national and EU-funded projects.


PROTELLUS, solutions for our soil and environment


We are a company founded to provide professional and scientific analyses of soil and environmental pollution, and to set up spatial information systems. Our basic activities include soil analyses, soil quality assessment, and environmental assessment. We collect, analyses, assess, and interpret data in an expert manner in order to provide a variety of clients useful information. Our activities encompass the entire process, from expert sampling to the interpretation of results in the form of useful information. In our work we frequently cooperate with other companies as well as national expert and scientific institutions operating in the public interest. 

Mateja Muršec, PhD, our lead researcher and a pedologist, was awarded a PhD from the University of Burgundy in France. In addition to research at ProTellus, she is also a senior lecturer in Pedology at the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences of the University of Maribor. 

Jure Radišek, MSc, is the director of the company and a geographer who was awarded a master's degree by the Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering, Department of Spatial Planning, University of Ljubljana.

 

 

SOIL ANALYTICS

ProTellus carries out every type of soil analyses, from analyses for ensuring sustainable use of soil on agricultural and urban surfaces, the analyses of soil contaminated with substances that are hazardous to humans and the environment (heavy metals and other pollutants), to individually ordered analyses of soil in gardens, green areas, and construction excavation sites.

 

  • What is soil analysis and why would one decide to have such an analysis performed?

A soil analysis is performed in order to determine the quality of the soil, in terms of either the concentration of nutrients (due to fertilising), or the presence of hazardous substances, such as heavy metals, pesticides, or organic or other pollutants. In order to determine the quality of soil with regard to the production of food, a soil analysis can determine the presence of plant-available nutrients, such as the following: phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, organic matter, and soil acidity. And if the soil pollution needs to be determined, a soil analysis can determine the most common hazardous substances in the soil, such as the following: arsenic, copper, zinc, cadmium, chromium, lead, and others. In addition to the mentioned types of analyses, we also perform other physical and chemical analyses of soil, encompassing the following: humidity, texture, volume density, salinity, and the cation/anion exchange capacity.


  • How is a soil analysis carried out and who performs such an analysis?

Since the method of sampling the soil depends on the purpose of the analysis, taking soil samples is best left to experts (pedologists), who will properly carry out the sampling, appropriately document samples, and store them until the analysis is performed. In a comprehensive pedological soil analysis, a soil pit must be dug and a complete description of the soil profile made. This method entails recording and sampling all pedogenetic horizons in the soil profile. A less invasive sampling method is field augering with a Holland auger (Ejkelkamp), which enables samples to be taken up to a depth of 120 cm. Then we deliver the samples to an accredited laboratory, where an analysis of the physical and chemical parameters of the soil is carried out. The laboratory data together with the morphological (physical) data enable a complete determination of the properties of each horizon. Thus, based on a synthesis of the evaluations of the individual horizons, we determine the characteristics of the soils of the entire soil profile, i.e. the soil properties. Only data obtained in such a manner can provide the most precise expert findings, which we are then able to properly interpret with regard to environmental protection requirements, the production of safe food, and ensuring the health of people.


  • What is the purpose of soil analysis and what solutions does it provide?

Based on the relevant analyses, ProTellus prepares the following:

- an interpretation and assessment of soil quality (e.g. regarding the concentration of nutrients);
- recommendations for further agromelioration measures (fertilisation, liming, irrigation, etc.);
- recommendations, instructions, and measures regarding the use of soil in the event of soil pollution;
- expert agricultural bases for strategic spatial planning acts and the implementation thereof;
- risk assessment with regard to hazardous substances and other pollutants entering into plants.



QUALITY ASSESSMENT OF AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST LAND


 

By assessing the quality of land the production capacity of the land can be determined with regard to plant production on the basis of natural factors that have a permanent character.  Quality assessment is carried out by qualified and accredited experts in accordance with the Rules on Determining and Keeping a Register of Land Assessments, independently of the current land use, on the basis of an assessment of the impact of soil, relief, climate, and special impacts such as exposure, the likelihood of drought and flooding, rockiness, windiness, shadiness, and how open the land is.


  • What is soil quality assessment and when is the soil quality assessment rating changed?

In determining the soil quality, the production capacity of the land is assessed with regard to the natural conditions for agricultural or forestry production. Soil quality is determined in terms of a number other than 0 for land which in terms of its actual use is categorised as agricultural or forest land, or in terms of a numerical rating with regard to a given plot. Plots with better natural and economic conditions for production are given a higher rating. A plot that has the highest production capacity is given a rating of 100. A change in the rating can be requested in the following cases:

- if the rating for the land in the land register does not correspond to the actual situation in nature;
- if changes have occurred in the land that affect its production capacity (due to landslides, deposits, erosion, land melioration, air pollution, a change in the access to the plot of land);
- a change in the actual use.


A correct calculation of the cadastral income of your farm, which in the future will be determined on the basis of data on the actual use and rating of the land, recorded in the land register, entails that you will be able to obtain or cancel the status of a protected farm, obtain possible subsidies, conditioned on the actual use and rating of the land, etc. Such a request is filed at the competent geodetic office together with the geodetic analysis. A change in the rating of the land (the calculation and number of rating points) can only be performed by an agricultural or forestry expert with the appropriate accreditation.

 


ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT


We offer comprehensive solutions with regard to assessing the impact of pollutants on the environment, such that we analyse all types of pollutants originating from agriculture, industry, urban environments, and traffic, and on the basis of laboratory results we assess the impact such can have on the pollution of the environment and humans. On the basis of these results, we provide an expert opinion and assessment of the level of pollution or the impact of pollution in a specific space.



SPATIAL INFORMATICS


The information and expertise we provide are intended for use in activities in support of sustainable development, protection of the environment, and the health of people. Without spatial information support, data and information are of little use. The application of spatial information and geographic information systems (GIS) is an essential part of our activities. We digitise the data and implement such data into GIS, and into online and desktop GIS applications, making the data suitable for further use.

 

 

PARTICIPATION IN MOST RECENT EU PROJECTS


Urban SMS: Municipality of Celje, Slovenia – The production of a 1:10,000 soil map and GIS soil quality indicators for the Municipality of Celje; total value of the project: EUR 2,200,000 (subcontractor)

GS Soil: Testing of the soil structure in the INSPIRE GIS database; total value of the project: EUR 5,100,000 (subcontractor)