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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Validity of Soil-Water Samples Collected with Porous Ceramic Cups1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 39 No. 3, p. 528-536
    Received: Sept 11, 1974
    Accepted: Dec 16, 1974

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  1. Edward A. Hansen and
  2. Alfred Ray Harris2



Laboratory and field tests were made to determine if porous ceramic cups collect representative samples of nitrate and phosphate from soil water. Substantial bias and variability were found. Some of the sources of sample bias were sorption, leaching, diffusion, and screening of phosphate ions by the cup walls. Sample variability of nitrate ions was strongly influenced by sampler intake rate, plugging, sampler depth, and type of vacuum system (which simulated different sampler sizes). These factors affect timing of sample collection and, because nutrient concentration in soil water is continually changing, they in turn affect sample concentration. These factors produced as much as a 60% range in sample concentration from eight samplers installed in a small uniform plot. Added to this variability is an unknown amount of bias representing the difference between the sample concentration and the average drainable soil-water concentration. The many factors affecting the sample concentration together with the demonstrated variability and unknown bias make interpretation of sampler data difficult. To reduce sample variability, group samplers by intake rate, and use short sampling intervals, uniform sampler lengths, and the same initial vacuum for all samplers.

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