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Soil and sediment analysis for agricultural and arctic landscapes

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2021, 09:18 by Emily Lemke, David Atkinson, Christopher Wellen
Soil plays in integral role in our terrestrial ecosystems. It is the membrane between the atmosphere and the biosphere. Soils provide a medium for vegetation, a filtration system for water, and contain the essential minerals and nutrients plants require (ref). Soil is composed of living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) material. Soil development is a dynamic and ongoing process that depends on local climate, parent material, topography, vegetation, and time. The size of the inorganic mineral particles within a soil is referred to as grain size. Soil grain size is classified as Clay if the particle diameter is <0.002 mm, as silt if it is between 0.002 mm and 0.06 mm, or as sand if it is between 0.06 mm and 2 mm (Figure). The texture of a soil, or the distribution of particle grain size, can be a determining factor on how the soil drains or retains water, and its ability to retain nutrients, and its susceptibility to erosion, all of which can be direct factors in the development of natural vegetation or crop suitability. To classify a particular soils texture the proportions of particle size (% Sand, % Silt, % Clay) of a given sample is required. The use of a standard method is essential in order to compare data obtained at different locations (ref). A well-developed method for determining the quantitative proportions of particle size is the hydrometer method. Additionally, local soil conditions, or infrastructure (Roads) can have a direct impact on the water quality, specifically the turbidity of local water. The quantitative measure of sediment with water is known as Total Suspended Sediment, and can be related to other water quality measures such as conductivity. Total suspended solids is determined by filtering a known volume of water and measuring the mass of the suspended material that is captured on a fine filter.