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Brian Acheff

Geo331
Winter2016

Soil Lab
Objective:
Using three different unknown soil samples, various physical and chemical tests will be
conducted to determine the soils physical and chemical makeup and identify their descriptive
soil type. The tests performed are to conclude the soils texture, structure, density, porosity, pH
and nutrient components. The tests are divided in to six parts that group various tests together
based on specific parameters to make a conclusion about the soils individually and relationally;
the results from the six parts can be correlated together to make a final conclusion about the
samples that will include the samples individual results along with a comparison of the results of
all samples based on the tests performed on them. The tested hypotheses and results can be
used to formulate a model about the identity of the samples, link them to a real world location
which in turn can be use to describe the geomorphology of the location and its geomorphic
processes.

Materials:
Part I

(x3) 100mL Graduated Cylinder


Plastic Film
20.0 g Sodium Hexmetaphosphate in H2O solution
Formula: (NaPO3)6
Molar mass: 611.77 g/mol
Density: 2.48 g/cm
Boiling point: 2,732F (1,500C)
Melting point: 1,022F (550C)
Soil Triangle

(x3) 100mL graduated cylinder


(x3) 15g samples of soil; one of each A,B,C
Coffee Filter
Triple Beam Balance
USDA / NRCS Soil Texture Grade Scale

Soil Texture Triangle

Part II

Part III

Brian Acheff
Geo331
Winter2016

Part IV

(x3) Soil Samples; A,B,C


Water Bottle With Water
Ruler
Simplifies Soil Texture Table

(3) Soil Sample; A,B,C


10mL Graduated cylinder
Triple Beam Balance
Drying Oven
Filter Funnel
Rod & Base
DI Spray Bottle
Coffee Filter
Stopwatch

(x3) Soil Samples; A,B,C


(x4) 500mL Beakers
DI Water
pH and Conductivity Meter
Buffering Solutions

Part V

Part VI

Methods:
Part I: Determine soil texture and component percent by fragmentation.
1. 25mL soil and 75 mL [NaPO3 ]6 Solution in 100mL cylinder.
2. Cover cylinder with plastic wrap, and invert several times until soil is suspended
3. Allow to settle 30min 24hr
4. Calculate Component Percent

()
()

(100%) = %

Brian Acheff
Geo331
Winter2016

Part II: Soil Density Determination


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

(x3) Soil Samples; A,B,C weighed out to 15g


Pour samples into 100mL cylinder and settler the soils
Record volume and pour on to coffee filter
Repeat steps 2 & 3 separately for each sample
Calculate Bulk Density and Porosity
Determine water holding capacity
[Mineral Particle Density ~ 2.65]

()

()

[1

(100%) ( n = particle density = 2.65)

Part III: Demonstrate use of USDA Texture Triangle


1. Read the directions on page 6 of the Lab Manuel and answers the question based on
the direction and the information given.
2. Record Results

Part IV: texture assessment methods


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Obtain samples of soils A,B,C.


Separately place the samples in your palms
Moisten with DI water
Work the soil in to balls then into ribbons
Record the results

Part V: texture and porosity


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

Obtain 3 soils samples; one of A,B,C.


Put each sample in a filtered funnel over a receiving container.
Add 50mL of Water at a time from a DI water mister
Once the water has broken through the filter record the time taken to do so
weigh the soils
measure the amount of water that percolated through the filter
oven dry the soils and then weigh them again, recording the results
Compare the weight of the dry soil, wet soil and oven dry soil.

Brian Acheff
Geo331
Winter2016

Part VI: pH and nutrient contents


1. Obtain three soil samples, one each of A,B,C
2. Make a 1:1 soil water solution using DI water and soil
3. Calibrate the pH / conductivity meter
4. Measure an record the three samples pH and conductivity

Results:
Part I: 28mL total of soil matter

Soil A = 14mL = 50% = sand


Soil B = 10mL = 35.7% = silt
Soil C = 4mL = 14.3% = clay
Conclusion: based of the percentage of the components the soils is classified as a Loam
using the USDA / NRCS soil triangle.

Part II: All three densities were similar. A & C were the same while B was slightly higher. Experimental
error is a possibility because all three soils were very similar and when tested again the density for B was
approximately what A& C was. Therefore based of retrial and initial trials all three exhibited the same
density and porosity; also the water holding capacity would be somewhat uniform based on the three
samples densities and porosities. (Volumes were 8mL of soil for each sample)
The relationship between texture and porosity is that the more tightly packed the mineral grain
are and also depending the dominant particle type will determine the amount of pout space and the
soils ability so adhere water to the particles themselves.
Density: Soil A = 1.875g/mL
Soil B = 1.880g/mL
Soil C = 1.875g/mL
Porosity: Soil A = 29.25%
Soil B = 29.07%
Soil C = 29.25%

Brian Acheff
Geo331
Winter2016
Part III: Question (Q) 1-3 data is in the charts

Q1
A
B
C
Q3
A
B
C

Texture Class
Clay
Silt Loam
Clay Loam

Q2
A
B
C

Texture Classification
Silt Loam
Clay
Loam

Soils & Drainage Areas

Clay (%)
45
25
10

Silt (%)
20
55
10

Sand (%)
35
20
80

In Genesee County the particle size distribution would


somewhat uniform through the profile. The Flint River
watershed encompasses most of the county so a lot of
the soils have hydrated soils that have the capacity to
hold generous amounts of water, based on the amount
of wetland areas within the counts and all the inlets
that flow down gradient to the river. Also there is / was
a heavy period of agriculture in the are so the soils were
/ are productive so that means they have the ability to
retain mineral content and have a high water capacity.
Many native soils have been displaced due to
urbanization so there isnt a true profile in many areas
but still the soils tend to well drained in many areas but
the Flint River in its natural state has extensive flood
plains with hydric soils. With this said loams with high
clay contents in some areas dominate the county.

Soils in Genesee County


Prime Farm Land in Genesee County

Images and captions are property of Genesee County Farmland & Soils George Squires Genesee
County Soil & Water Conservation District Manager. (http://slideplayer.com/slide/3528886/)
Part IV: After performing the ribbon test on each of samples A ,B & C it was concluded that all three
samples fell under the Sandy Loam, Loamy Sand and Sand classification. Ribbons essentially did not form
and when wetted the ped presumed to crumble and fall apart indicating the soils consistence was poor.
The estimated percent of sand of greater than 50 which is classified as gritty and the percentage of clay
was estimated to be less than 27 percent. These assumptions are based off of a simplified soil texture
table found on page 8 of the lab packet.

Brian Acheff
Geo331
Winter2016
Part V: After performing part five, it can be noted that there are many different variables that can be
produced for this part, thus there is room for extensive experimental error due to variability and due to
the fact that the instrumentation and methods use for this part are do not produce the adequate
precision and accuracy needed for reliable results, although the results given can be used to make sound
scientific approximation about the soils and deduces further hypothesis form them.
Variables:

Type of filter used or no filter used


Rate at which the soil was misted with water
The accuracy of the time being recorded
Amount of time in the oven
Constants
Soil component makeup

Variables / Constants Used:

SAMLE
Soil A
Soil B
Soil C

DRY(g)
104.8
104.8
104.8

WET (g)
155.2
138.3
151.3

Sample A had a coffee filter


Samples B&C had no filters
Sample weights were constant
Quantity of water used was constant
OVEN DRY (g)
105.5
101.2
101.3

WATER ADDED (mL)


60
60
60

WATER INFILTRATED (mL)


1.2
4
3.5

WATER ABSORBED (mL) TIME (sec)


58.8
2:35
56
3:40
56.5
3:45

Based on the results shown on the charts, the samples were very similar. The differences are
due to variability explained above and also the soils have different amounts of mineral matter and
humus which had a primary role in absorption and infiltration. Also experimental error such as
inaccurate measuring and recording could have had minor altercations to the results, but since the
results for the three samples were very similar, the error was held to a minimum given the resources.

Part VI: After performing the pH and conductivity test it was evident that the was either expertimental
error or that the was mineral or hums matter interfering with the conductivity electrode based on soils
A & B had an extremely high conductivity, and soil B stating that NaCl (sodium chloride) was nonlinear.
Though the pH reading were assumed appropriate for that of soil, slightly too somewhat acidic.
Samples
Soil A
Soil B
Soil C

pH
6.61
6.42
6.62

Conductivity (s/cm)
14.89
1,136
659
6

Brian Acheff
Geo331
Winter2016

Questions (page 11):


1. Based on the pH most plants growing in this soil would be getting essential nutrients they need.
Soils within the pH ranges shown above would be slightly acidic therefore the particles in the soil on
an individual basis would present a negative charge for the most part. Therefore there more
negatively charged particles the greater the capacity to bind with positive mineral nutrient ions that
are within the soil water solution. This is part of the CEC (cation exchange capacity) so that would be
that plants should be able to uptake nutrients.
2. There is a relationship, the pH of the soil is heavily influenced by its mineral content.
3. Depending on how the soil is need to be better improved adding mineral and nutrients based on the
desired pH would be the best course of action.
4. Precipitation would have an influence on of the minerals in the soil because precipitation in all its
forms has a varying pH and this has the ability to influence the minerals. If the rain is very acidic
then minerals can be chemically rearranged, altering the chemical makeup of the soil thus making
the soil more acidic possibly

Brian Acheff
Geo331
Winter2016