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Comparing Two Methods for Measuring Soil Bulk Density and Moisture Content

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Document pages: 11 pages

Abstract: Soil bulk density and moisture content are dynamic properties that vary with changes in soil and field conditions and have many agricultural, hydrological and environmental implications. The main objective of this study was to compare between a soil core sampling method (core) and the CPN MC-3 EliteTM nuclear gauge method (radiation) for measuring bulk density (ρB) and volumetric moisture content (θv) in a clay loam soil. Soil ρB and θv measurements were determined using the core and radiation methods at 0 - 10 and 10 - 20 cm soil depths. The mean values of soil ρB obtained using the core method (1.454, 1.492 g·cm−3) were greater than those obtained using the radiation method (1.343, 1.476 g·cm−3) at the 0 - 10 and 10 - 20 cm depths, respectively. Mean ρB and θv values averaged across both depths (referred to as the 0 - 20 cm depth) measured by the core method were 4.47 and 22.74 greater, respectively, than those obtained by the radiation method. The coefficients of variation (CV) of soil ρB values measured by the core method were lower than the CV values of those measured by the radiation method at both depths; however, the CV’s of ρB values for both methods were larger at the 0 - 10 cm depth than those measured at the 10 - 20 cm depth. Similarly, the CV values of soil θv values measured by the core method were lower than the CV values of those measured by the radiation method at both depths. There were significant differences between two methods in terms of ρB and θv, with the core method generating greater values than the radiation method at the 0 - 20 cm depth. These discrepancies between the two methods could have resulted from soil compaction and soil disturbance caused by the core and radiation techniques, respectively, as well as by other sources of error. Nevertheless, the core sampling method is considered the most common one for measuring ρB for many agricultural, hydrological and environmental studies in most soils.

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