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Understanding the ion-specific effects of the mineral elements is a central theme of biology because these ions are fundamental to the composition and maintenance of life. However, experiments concerned with determining ion-specific effects are generally performed with salt, as opposed to ion, manipulations. This means that researchers have had to accept a co-variance in the co-ion of the salt used to manipulate the ion of interest. The result is that the effect of a single ion cannot be determined as it is confounded with the potential combined effects of the other ions that are co-varied. Because of this difficulty, the majority of research studies concerned with determining ion-specific effects exhibit ion confounding. The software application ARS-Media utilizes a linear programming optimization algorithm to determine the combination of salts, acids, and bases that satisfies any given target solution of ions. ARS-Media therefore allows researchers to construct experimental designs that use ions, as opposed to salts, as individual factors and, hence, experimentally determine ion-specific effects on biological responses relating to ion type, concentration, and proportion.

ARS-Media for Excel is an ion solution calculator that uses Excel's linear programming optimization add-in Solver.

ARS-Media utilizes Excel’s internal linear programming optimization algorithm to determine the combination of salts, acids, and bases that satisfy any given target solution of ions. The spreadsheet is designed for the formulation of nutrient media used in such applications as plant tissue culture, hydroponics, algal culture, fertilizer formulations, microbial culture, and any application that requires the definition of a specific culture media by its ion composition. The spreadsheet is formula-based and uses no macros that can sometimes conflict with institutional IT security systems.

Web download of these resources can be found at:
ARS-Media for Excel

Release Date
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Area
POLYGON ((-534.375 -85.170970128409, -534.375 85.287916121237, -164.53125 85.287916121237, -164.53125 -85.170970128409))
United States Department of Agriculture
Temporal Coverage
January 1, 2015
Contact Name
Niedz, Randall P.
Contact Email
Public Access Level
Program Code
005:040 - Department of Agriculture - National Research
Bureau Code
005:18 - Agricultural Research Service