IsoPROTECT Austria

The aim of the project is the systematic creation of a terrestrial and aquatic isotopic landscape of Austria for determining the origin of regionally produced food.

food, origin, soil

The project overview

Area of Science: Natural Sciences
Location: Austria
Used Devices: without PC/Mobile, with PC/Mobile
Equipment of citizen scientists: Computer with internet or smartphone; basic equipment for sampling (e.g. container), preparation (e.g. sieves) and simple soil chemical analysis (e.g. pH measurement) will be provided
Activities of citizen scientists: observing, measuring, analysing, other activities
Suitable for: Youngsters and adults
Project duration: 01.07.2016 - 31.12.2018
Time to join in: 01.09.2016 - 31.12.2018
Expenditure of time: 5 min for registration; 1-3 times about 3h for sample preparation and measurement or development of chemical methods and sending samples to Tulln

Project objective

The project "IsoPROTECT: Protecting regional food production in Austria by isotopic and multi-elemental fingerprinting" is an extension of the Sparkling Science project "CSI: TRACE your FOOD!". The main goal of IsoPROTECT is the systematic extension of the database, which has been developed during the main project. The results will allow for the creation of a terrestrial and aquatic isotopic landscape of Austria for the origin determination of regionally produced food of plant and fish. To achieve this goal, a good coverage of the main growing and fish producing regions in Austria is needed. In addition, the statistical online tool for the assignment of food developed during the last project will be optimised and provided on a web platform for citizens.

Soil and water samples will be collected by local producers, who will upload all related information (coordinates, soil type, exposition, production conditions, photographs, etc.) to the ArcGIS Online app and send the samples to cooperating schools. There, pupils will conduct basic sample preparation steps (sieving of soil samples, filtering of water) and measure fundamental chemical parameters (pH, water hardness). These data will be entered into the ArcGIS app as well.

The prepared samples will be then sent to the VIRIS laboratory and analysed there by means of mass spectrometric methods. In addition, citizen scientists will be involved in the development of a rapid test for the determination of the concentration of strontium (Sr). This rapid test will allow for a significant facilitation of the sample preparation in the laboratory.

In order to optimise the chosen citizen science approach, citizens will provide feedback and new research questions and quality criteria will be developed.

The gained data will be discussed together with local producers and schools. At the end of the project all results will be presented to the public at "Science Dinners". After the project, the elemental and isotopic data will be provided online, also to be used by other scientific disciplines. To assure the sustainability of the created regional network and the cooperation, the formation of a non-profit association “Friends of Regional Food Production in Austria” is planned. The importance of regionally produced foods will be disseminated by citizen scientists and thus also the protection of the regionality is supported by them.

Participating and supporting institutions


Prof. DI Dr. Thomas Prohaska

DI Dr. Andreas Zitek

Project website:

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