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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 44 No. 4, p. 721-724
    Received: Sept 17, 1979
    Accepted: Mar 4, 1980

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Studying Dried, Stored Soil Samples — Some Pitfalls1

  1. Richmond Bartlett and
  2. Bruce James2



Dried, pulverized, and sieved soil samples are prepared and stored for laboratory research convenience. Drying and increasing time of storage both tend to push soil, which is metastable, toward increased surface acidity, reduced Mn, and increased solubility and oxidizability of soil organic matter. Reformation of metastable moist soil is a slow process mediated by environmental conditions interacting with life in the soil. Similar effects undoubtedly occur in the field as soils are dried.

Two sets of problems confront the researcher using dried soil samples: those associated with drying itself and those associated with remoistening. The behavior of a dried sample immediately after adding water to it is different from that of the continuously moist soil. Remoistening for a longer period is followed by a microbiological explosion. The behavior of the soil for an extended period, perhaps more than a month after rewetting, may be anomalous, or at least unpredictable. Keeping a soil moist and aerobic, though certainly inconvenient, is the most satisfactory method of storage for many research uses.

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