Conservation South Africa: Laboratory technician to fractionate soil and analyze soil texture

Conservation South Africa
Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
Opportunity closing date: 
Monday, 26 August, 2019
Opportunity type: 
Call for proposals

Conservation South Africa (CSA) believes “People need nature to thrive “, and so its work seeks to promote and support conservation, restoration, and sustainable land use in South Africa’s Hotspots as an essential element of food security and land reform, human and economic development, and building resilience to the impacts of climate change. CSA helps local communities protect these natural habitats that support their livelihoods by helping them to acquire skills and implement initiatives help protect nature and counteract the effects of climate change and other activities that negatively affect livelihoods and put species at risk of extinction.


CSA is conducting research on what land use practices (grazing, fire, control of erosion) increase soil carbon and reduce emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide, in the context of climate change. We have sampled and analyzed soils from communal grazing lands where we work, as well as long-term experimental trials in the savanna and grasslands of South Africa. Soil carbon data has helped us develop a preliminary ecosystem model of how practices change soil carbon. Finer models based on measurable soil fractions require a partitioning of soil samples.

Services Required

We are looking for a competent laboratory technician to who is familiar with the Malvern particle size analysis via X-ray diffraction, ideally using the standard operating protocol of the Mastersizer 2000. In addition, the person should be familiar with standard soil sieving and filtration required to fractionate soil organic matter using a new protocol (MEMS, Appendix 1). The Science Director will assist the technician to become familiar with the protocol, after which the technician is expected to work independently, apart from weekly reports.

Laboratory space will be available at Biological Sciences (BioSci), University of Cape Town (UCT), where the Science Director is an Associate. Personal safety equipment, (lab coat, eye protection etc), chemicals, lab book, and lab equipment will be supplied. The successful candidate is responsible for acquiring an access card for BioSci from Campus Protection Services.
70 days of professional time during August-November 2019 as follows:

  1. 5 days sample preparation, glassware acid cleaning and equipment preparation, and learning details of MEMS method, beginning 30th Aug 2019 at UCT
  2. Approx. 55 or more days over the course of Aug to Oct (ending latest 15 November 2019) of sample fractionation, grinding and final storage into plastic bags in a desiccated environment.


  • Analyze soil texture by X-ray diffraction using the Malvern technique
  • Fractionate ca. 1000 soil samples as per the MEMS Method (Appendix 1)
  • Grind fractionated samples
  • Store labelled samples in desiccated environment, ready for C analysis
  • Keep record of all sample names, weights and other details in a lab book
  • Present progress and lab book at weekly meetings


Should you wish to apply to this Request for Proposal, please submit the following documents to with the reference MEMS in the subject line by no later than (midnight) on 26th Aug 2019:

  • Brief cover letter or email explaining your qualifications or experience regarding the use of Malvern and soil preparation and analysis in general;
  • Brief Curriculum Vitae that includes qualifications, experience and capacity of the applicant;
  • At least three examples of previous work done;
  • Proof of registration (if Company) or valid Identity Document, with work permit if foreign ID;
  • Quote for 70 days of work, including your daily rate.

Please email any enquiries to

Applicants who have received no response within 3 days of the closing should kindly assume that their proposal was unsuccessful.

CSA reserves the right to negotiate terms and conditions with the successful bidder/s or not to engage technical support at all if applicants are not of a required standard and qualification or if the bid is unsuccessful.

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