Testing the integral suspension pressure method for soil particle size analysis across a range of soil organic matter contents
More details
Hide details
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
Carlos A. Bonilla   

Departamento de Ingeniería Hidráulica y Ambiental, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860, Macul, 7820436, Santiago, Chile
Final revision date: 2021-11-29
Acceptance date: 2021-12-01
Publication date: 2021-12-22
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
Arriaga F.J., Lowery B., and Mays M.D., 2006. A fast method for determining soil particle size distribution using a laser instrument. Soil Sci., 171, 663-674.
Bouyoucos G.J., 1927. The hydrometer as a new method for the mechanical analysis of soils. Soil Sci., 23(5),
Coates G.F. and Hulse C.A., 1985. A comparison of four methods of size analysis of fine-grained sediments. New Zeal. J. Geol. Geophys., 28(2), 369-380.
Contreras C.P. and Bonilla C.A., 2018. A comprehensive evaluation of pedotransfer functions for predicting soil water content in environmental modeling and ecosystem management. Sci. Total Environ., 644, 1580-1590,
Curcio D., Ciraolo G., D'Asaro F., and Minacapilli M., 2013. prediction of soil texture distributions using VNIR-SWIR reflectance spectroscopy. Procedia Environ. Sci., 19, 494-503,
Demand D., Selker J.S., and Weiler M., 2019. Influences of macropores on infiltration into seasonally frozen soil. Vadose Zo. J., 18, 180147,
Durner W., Iden S.C., and von Unold G., 2017. The integral suspension pressure method (ISP) for precise particle-size analysis by gravitational sedimentation. Water Resour. Res., 53(1), 33-48,
Durner W., Miller A., Gisecke M., and Iden S.C., 2020. Testing the improved integral suspension pressure method ISP+ with the PARIOTM device, EGU General Assembly, id.10906,
Durner W. and Iden S.C., 2021. The improved integral suspension pressure method (ISP+) for precise particle size analysis of soil and sedimentary materials. Soil Till. Res., 213,
Ellies A., Ramı́rez C., and Mac Donald R., 2005. Organic matter and wetting capacity distribution in aggregates of Chilean soils. Catena, 59(1), 69-78,
Faé G.S., Montes F., Bazilevskaya E., Añó R.M., and Kemanian A.R., 2019. Making soil particle size analysis by laser diffraction compatible with standard soil texture determination methods. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 83, 1244-1252,
Fisher P., Aumann C., Chia K., O'HalloranN., and Chandra S., 2017. Adequacy of laser diffraction for soil particle size analysis. PLoS One, 12(5),
Foltran E.C., Ammer C., and Lamersdorf N., 2021. Douglas fir and Norway spruce admixtures to beech forests along in Northern Germany – Are soil nutrient conditions affected?
Gavlack R., Horneck D., and Miller R., 2005. Plant, soil and water reference methods for the Western Region. Western Regional Extension Publication (WREP) 125, WERA-103 Technical Committee,
Hamilton N.E. and Ferry M., 2018. "ggtern: Ternary Diagrams Using ggplot2" J. Stat. Softw., 87(3), 1-17,
Jensen J.L., Schjønning P., Watts C.W., Christensen B.T., and Munkholm L.J., 2017. Soil texture analysis revisited: Removal of organic matter matters more than ever. PLoS One, 12(5),
Kemper W.D., and Rosenau R.C., 1986. Aggregate stability and size similar to the aggregates distribution. In: Methods of soil analysis (Ed. A. Klute),
Konert M. and Vanderberghe J.E.F., 1997. Comparison of laser grain size analysis with pipette and sieve analysis: a solution for the underestimation of the clay fraction. Sedimentology, 44(3), 523-535,
Mako A., Szabo B., Rajkai K.,Szabo J.,Bakacsi Z., Labancz V., Hernadi H., and Barna G., 2019. Evaluation of soil texture determination using soil fraction data resulting from laser diffraction method. Int. Agrophys., 33, 445-454,
Makovníková J., Širáň M., Houšková B., Pálka B., and Jones A., 2017. Comparison of different models for predicting soil bulk density. Case study – Slovakian agricultural soils. Int. Agrophys., 31, 491-498,
Martín M.Á., Pachepsky Y.A., García-Gutiérrez C., and Reyes M., 2018. On soil textural classifications and soil-texture-based estimations. Solid Earth, 9(1), 159-165,
Mikutta R., Kleber M., Kaiser K., and Jahn R., 2005. Organic matter removal from soils using hydrogen peroxide, sodium hypochlorite, and disodium peroxodisulfate. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 69(1), 120-135,
Nemes A., Angyal A., Mako A., Jacobsen J.E., and Herczeg E., 2020. Measurement of soil particle-size distribution by the PARIO measurement system: lessons learned and comparison with two other measurement techniques. EGU General Assembly. id.9832,
Nemes A., Czinkota I., Czinkota G., and et al., 2002. Outline of an automated system for the quasi-continuous measurement of particle-size distribution, Agrokém. és Talajt., 51(1-2), 37-46.
Poppiel R.R., Lacerda M.P.C., Demattê J.A.M., Oliveira M.P., Gallo B.C., and Safanelli J.L., 2019. Pedology and soil class mapping from proximal and remote sensed data. Geoderma, 348, 189-206,
Ramsey C.A. and Suggs J., 2001. Improving laboratory performance through scientific subsampling techniques. Environ. Test. Anal., 10, 12-16.
Rivera J.I. and Bonilla C.A., 2020. Predicting soil aggregate stability using readily available soil properties and machine learning techniques. Catena, 187, 104408,
Robinson G.W., 1922. Note on the mechanical analysis of humus soils. J. Agric. Sci., 12(3), 287-291.
Salley S.W., Herrick J.E., Holmes C.V., Karl J.W., Levi M.R., McCord S.E., van der Waal C. and Van Zee J.W., 2018. A comparison of soil texture by feel estimates: implications for the citizen soil scientist. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 82, 1526-1537,
Thiam M., Thuyet D.Q., Saito H., and Kohgo Y., 2019. Performance of the tangential model of soil water retention curves for various soil texture classes. Geoderma, 337, 514-523.
Walkley A. and Black I.A., 1934. An examination of the Degtjareff method for determining soil organic matter, and a proposed modification of the chromic acid titration method. Soil Sci., 37(1),
Yang X., Zhang Q., Li X., Jia X., Wei X., Shao M., 2015. Determination of soil texture by laser diffraction method. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 79(6), 1556-1566,
Zagal E. and Sadzawka M., 2007. Protocol of Methods of Analysis for Soils and Sludge (in Spanish). University of Concepción, Faculty of Agronomy. Chillán, Chile.
Zimmermann I., and Horn R., 2020. Impact of sample pretreatment on the results of texture analysis in different soils. Geoderma, 371, 114379,