Method | Method |

Soil samples


Also known as E) Soil samples

Date created: 2020-07-31
Date modified: 2021-01-14

Member of

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Two different soil sample types will be collected:

  1. standard 500 g samples from both the soil characterisation cores (to 1 m+) and those from the nine soil observations (to 30 cm) across the plot, and
  2. soil bulk density samples collected in the metal rings.

The two different sample types require different processing after collection.


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e. Soil samples

Time required

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Standard 500 g samples

All of these samples are to be submitted to the CSIRO National Soil Archive for inclusion in the national collection. All samples need to conform to the submission criteria to facilitate inclusion and minimise double handling. This includes:

When a suitable batch size has been collected, this should then be dispatched to the National Soil Archive.

CSIRO National Soil Archive Attention: Linda Karssies/David Jacquier CSIRO Land and Water Clunies Ross Street Black Mountain, ACT 2601

Contact details for the Archiver to be advised of the pending shipment, are

(02) 6246 5824 or (02) 6246 5916.
Bulk density soil samples

Samples collected for bulk density determination will either be stored in the metal rings in which they were collected or in plastic zip lock bags. Both storage vessels will be labelled with a barcode which will have been scanned in the field using the field PDA and details recorded on the AusPlots database.

The procedure for determining soil bulk density is simple. Put the soils in an oven-proof container e.g. an aluminium take-away tray, making sure that all of the soil from each sample is included. If the soil is still in the metal rings, this can be put into the oven inside a paper bag (once the plastic end caps are removed) and then put on an aluminium tray. If the soil is in a plastic zip-lock bag, remove all the soil from the bag and place it all in a paper bag which is then placed on an aluminium tray. The aluminium tray/s is then put in an oven for 48 hours at 105°C to remove all moisture from the soil matrix. Soils are then removed from the oven and the weight of each soil sample determined (to an accuracy of 0.01 g) and recorded. Either weigh each sample still in the container and subtract the weight of the container, or remove the entire sample from the container and weigh the sample.

Coarse fragments need to be considered. After drying, remove the coarse fragment component from each sample by sieving it through a 2 mm sieve. Weigh the coarse fragments and record the weight and then determine the volume of the coarse fragments by the displacement of water in a measuring ring. These measurements, plus the known volume of the metal collection cylinders, can then be combined to provide bulk density values of the entire soil sample, or of the fine earth component, particles < 2 mm i.e. the total soil component minus the coarse fragments.

See the fine earth volume, fine earth weight and fine earth weight in bag.

See the abundance of coarse fragments, lithology of coarse fragments, shape of coarse fragments and the size of coarse fragments parameters.

If the collecting agency does not have access to required laboratory facilities, the bulk density samples collected as part of the survey process need to be suitably packaged and then forwarded to the AusPlots Rangelands Alice Springs office.

AusPlots Rangelands c/- Department of Resources Arid Zone Research Institute South Stuart Hwy Alice Springs, NT 0800

Additional notes

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White, A, Sparrow, B., Leitch, E., Foulkes, J., Flitton, R., Lowe, A.J., Caddy-Retalic, S. (2012). AusPlots Rangelands Survey Protocols Manual. Version 1.2.9 page 56-57. Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network and The University of Adelaide Press.


TERN is supported by the Australian Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy, NCRIS.