Evaluation of a Field Test Kit for Measuring selected Soil Quality Indicators
- Mark A. Liebig ,
- John W. Doran and
- John C. Gardner
A field soil quality test kit was developed to permit rapid assessment of numerous soil characteristics recognized as basic indicators of soil quality. This study was conducted to determine the accuracy and precision of indicator measurements with the field soil quality test kit. Data collected with the test kit were compared with that from standard laboratory analyses using soils from grassland and cropland on two farms in Stutsman County, North Dakota. Results obtained with the test kit for electrical conductivity, soil pH, soil nitrate, and gravimetric water content compared well with those found by standard laboratory analyses. Significant differences in soil respiration between the field and laboratory methods were attributed to the inclusion of root respiration in the test kit measurement and to differences in sampling time, disturbance, and soil depth. Repeated test kit measurements were, for the most part, no more variable than standard laboratory analyses except when the water status of soils neared saturation. This preliminary evaluation demonstrated the field test kit to be an effective screening tool for point-scale assessment of soil quality by providing accurate and precise data over a range of soil conditions.
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