Miner Institute Lab Facilities

The BERC lab complex includes our forage testing lab and our environmental labs. Combined, these laboratories serve a wide variety of functions from education to research. The facilities are geared toward our educational courses and research programs dealing with dairy and farm management, as well as environmental science. The forage laboratory is a direct extension of our dairy farm. Monthly forage samples are tested for quality and nutrient composition which aids in diet formulation for our herd of Holsteins. Other assays are performed in conjunction with research projects involving dietary strategy, chewing behavior, and nutrient utilization. The environmental laboratory focuses primarily on nutrient cycling in soil and water on farms. Values from best management practices are compared to natural forest and urban runoff to assess land usage impacts. The entire laboratory complex operates under GLP (Good Laboratory Practices) and continues to expand its capabilities with modern automated equipment.

Forage Laboratory

The mission of the forage laboratory is to improve the understanding of forage quality and the means of producing quality forages to benefit dairy animal health, production and the dairy farm as an ecological system. The staff conducts research trials, demonstrates techniques to students, and collaborates with universities and national testing laboratories.

Core Lab Analyses Include:

Dry Matter/Ash

Dry matters (DM) are performed in either 55º or 105ºC gravity or forced air ovens. Large crop trials are done in industrial sized ovens. Samples are ashed using our muffle furnace. Loss on ignition (carbon content) can also be determined with the furnace.

Detergent Analyses and In Vitro Digestions

The Institute operates an Ankom fiber and digestion system to perform in vitro digestions, true and apparent digestibility (DMDa and DMDt) of dry matter (DM) and neutral detergent fiber (NDF), NDF, NDFd, ADF, lignin, and ash (combined) using fistulated cows.

Volatile Fatty Acid Analysis

Volatile fatty acids are products of rumen silage fermentation. Rumen fluid and water extracted silage samples are filtered and analyzed using a Varian 3800 Gas Chromatograph with FID detector. The output includes: acetic, lactic, valeric, isovaleric, propionic, and butyric acids.

Nitrogen (Crude Protein, Fractions)

A Leco FP428 nitrogen analyzer is used to determine nitrogen via Dumas combustion.

Midi Silos

Adjacent to the dairy barn complex are 12 Midi Silos for forage fermentation studies. Each silo has a 1,000 pound feed storage capacity.

In our laboratories, samples are analyzed for research being conducted here at Miner Institute. We are a research lab and not a commercial lab. For further information on our forage laboratory, contact Jeff Darrah at 518-846-7121, ext. 136 or fax (518) 846-7774.

Environmental Laboratory

The environmental laboratory has been in operation since 1972, when the Applied Environmental Science Program (AESP) began at Miner Institute. Since that time, the lab has adapted to changing needs to fit its focus on education and research. The fall semester AESP utilizes this space for research in soil science, geology, and water quality modeling coursework, including tank reactor simulations and biochemical oxygen demand. Along with a complement of basic bench chemistry equipment, our newest additions allow for a detailed monitoring of silage effluent systems (biochemical oxygen demand and total phosphorus) and tile drained field export (phosphorus and pesticides) throughout the Little Chazy River watershed. The goal is to detail how farm-based best management practices really function to minimize environmental damage for sustainable agriculture.

Enviromental Lab Assays:

Soluble Reactive Phosphorus

Raw water samples are filtered through a 0.45 um membrane and processed for available P using a Seal AA3 autoanalyzer (APHA 4500-P, E).

Total Phosphorus

Raw water samples undergo a sulfuric acid/persulfate digestion before being processed for available P using a Seal AA3 autoanalyzer (APHA 4500-P, B, 5).


Raw water samples are filtered through a 0.45um membrane and processed for ammonia using a Seal AA3 autoanalyzer (APHA 4500-NH3, F).


Raw water samples are diluted and Dissolved Oxygen content determined with a YSI Model 58 stirring probe on Day 0 and Day 5 (APHA 5210-BOD5, B).


Raw water samples are filtered through a 0.45 um membrane and processed for Nitrates using a Seal AA3 autoanalyzer (APHA 4500-NO3-, I).

For additional information on our environmental laboratory, contact Steve Kramer at (518) 846-7121, ext. 127.

BERC Computer Laboratory

The BERC complex hosts a state-of-the-art computer laboratory facility. The computer laboratory, which undergoes upgrades on an annual basis; it consists of 18 networked computers, along with a color laser printer and a portable digital projector. The center of the room has tables, which can be used to spread out projects or for conferencing. The room is climate controlled with multiple lighting options, making it perfect for lecture, workshops, or homework.

For more information, contact Steve Kramer at (518) 846-7121, ext. 127.

BERC Auditorium

The auditorium is used to host public educational events and can also be used by agricultural organizations as meeting space. It is equipped with a computer, internet access, a digital projector and sound system. It can accomodate 200 people.

For more information, contact Wanda Emerich at (518) 846-7121, ext. 117.

Green Room

The green room is the main classroom space utilized for education programs at Miner Institute. It can accommodate about 20 - 25 people. The classroom is equipped with a computer, wireless internet access, and digital projector.

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