Measuring physical chemical and biological soil parameters in grasslands

J. Bouma, J.P. Curry, V.J.G. Houba

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


Numerous methods are used for measuring physical, chemical and biological soil properties. Not many are specifically focused on grassland soils but
when methods are applied to grassland soils they can produce data sets that
are distinct from data obtained for other forms of land use. The objective
of this chapter is to discuss the main physical, chemical and biological
processes in grassland soils with reference to published methodologies:
● Relationships between physical, chemical and biological processes.
Increasingly a holistic, systems approach is being taken as the three
basic processes are strongly interrelated.
● The importance of choosing any particular method. All too often
researchers jump into a project using familiar methods without considering if they are appropriate.
● The importance of sampling techniques and intensity. The number of
samples and their location in the field are subject to specific conditions
when dealing with grasslands.
● The need for quality control. Producing data is never a problem; producing good and reliable data is the big challenge. All potential sources
of error have to be considered: sampling procedures, pre-treatment of
samples, and the measurement procedures and final calculations themselves, including additional errors that can arise if further calculations
are required to arrive at the final data set.
CAB International 2000. Field and Laboratory Methods for Grassland and
Animal Production Research (eds L. ’t Mannetje and R.M. Jones) 279
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The section on soil biology illustrates the significance of soil physical and
chemical conditions for biological processes. When describing physical
conditions, emphasis is given to so-called land qualities, which characterize
dynamic physical conditions during the growing season, rather than
measurement of single parameters. In the soil chemical section, special
attention is paid to the importance of proper pre-treatment of samples and
to the wide range of results that can be found when using different analysis
Measurement of Ph
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationField and laboratory methods for grassland and animal production research
EditorsL. 't Mannetje, R.M. Jones
ISBN (Print)9780851993515
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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