Testing the integral suspension pressure method for soil particle size analysis across a range of soil organic matter contents
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Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860, Macul, Santiago 7820436, Chile
Center for Sustainable Urban Development CEDEUS, ANID/FONDAP/15110020, El Comendador 1916, Providencia, Santiago 7520245, Chile
Final revision date: 2021-11-29
Acceptance date: 2021-12-01
Publication date: 2021-12-22
Corresponding author
Carlos A. Bonilla   

Departamento de Ingeniería Hidráulica y Ambiental, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860, Macul, 7820436, Santiago, Chile
Int. Agrophys. 2021, 35(4): 357-363
  • ISP and hydrometer methods were compared in soil samples with 0.22–12% OM content
  • Regardless of its content, OM removal did not produce bias between both methods
  • RMSEs between ISP and hydrometer were 8.9% (sand), 8.1% (silt), and 11.9% (clay)
  • The ISP method overestimated silt in silt-rich samples
  • With the ISP, clay was underestimated all over the range of measurements
Particle-size distribution is a critical part of soil description, which is commonly measured using pipette and hydrometer methods. However, a recently developed technique, called the integral suspension pressure method, allows for the measurement of continuous particle-size distribution based on Stokes' law. The objective of this study was to evaluate the applicability of the integral suspension pressure method for measuring particle-size distribution, as an alternative to the standard hydrometer procedure. The integral suspension pressure method was tested by using a soil dataset with a wide range of organic matter contents (0.22-12.0%). Forty-nine samples were analysed with a hydrometer after organic matter removal and the results were compared with those obtained using the integral suspension pressure method. Through comparing the integral suspension pressure and hydrometer measurements, root mean square error values of 8.9, 8.1, and 11.9% were observed for sand, silt, and clay, respectively. The clay fraction was underestimated throughout the entire range of measurements. Conversely, the silt content was overestimated over the whole range of measurements, especially in samples with more than 36% silt. When compared to the hydrometer method, integral suspension pressure integral suspension pressure exhibited a tendency to misclassify the soil texture of clay loam samples but was accurate for sandy loams.
The study was conducted in the Soil Biophysics Laboratory, and we thank the research group for their constructive comments, which improved the manuscript. Main author thanks the ANID/CONICYT Doctorado Nacional Scholarship 21160742, Government of Chile.
This work research was supported by funding from the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research, ANID/CONICYT/FONDECYT/Regular 1191166 (2019-2022).
The authors declare no conflict of interest
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