What Do I Do About Rocks Or Roots In My Soil Bulk Density Sample?

If there are large rocks or roots in your freshly collected soil core, the best option is to retake the sample. However, there are some tricks to using the original without compromising the data:

  • Trim away large roots that protrude from the sleeve volume;
  • Label the portions of the rock as being outside the sample volume; and
  • Resist the temptation to remove the obstruction and repack the sample.

It can be difficult to assess how much root or rock is present inside the sleeve, so take the time to make notes about what you do see. Not doing anything to inform the laboratory about what the core looked like can lead to errors in the soil bulk density value.

Acknowledgement: Thank you to AMS Samplers, American Falls, Idaho, USA, for their generous donation of equipment to enable this demonstration. Supplies used in this video include the hex quick pin slide hammer tool and clear plastic sleeves of 3-inch diameter and length.