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Infiltration test

Posted by Peter Donovan 7 years, 3 months ago

Stan Boyd of South Dakota NRCS made a great little video about doing a simple, single-ring infiltration test on three different types of management. "[Infiltration] responds very rapidly to changes in management."

Single-ring infiltration tests are part of the Soil Carbon Challenge baseline method. Single-ring means one ring, but  because of variability in soil surface and macropores it is much better to time several rings concurrently in a small area.

In order to have a better repeatable observation, we recommend using four or five, 6-inch diameter rings, and running them concurrently using one stopwatch: start #1 at 0, #2 at 1:00 (one minute), #3 at 2:00, and so on, and subtracting the start time from the finish time for each ring. Variability may be high, so 4 or 5 rings will give you a better picture than one. You may use our data entry app atlasbiowork to record your data with a smartphone, which has 5 independent recording stopwatches. Or, if you are part of a soilhealth.app project, you can use the infiltration form there which also has multiple recording stopwatches.

see also

http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs142p2_052494.pdf

NEW in 2020! We now sell stainless steel infiltration rings, fairly rugged but thin enough to keep sharp to cut through roots and soil with minimal disturbance. (Thick rings, when pounded in, tend to collapse macropores.) These rings come in two slightly different sizes so that they nest in pairs, enabling you to carry 4 rings in a single 5-gallon bucket. Order here: soilcarboncoalition.org/infiltration-rings

The full kit should consist of 4 or 5 rings plus:

  1. 5-gallon bucket with lid for carrying water and rings
  2. 45-oz deadblow hammer (we use Estwing)
  3. wood blocks, multiple because they break, for driving rings halfway into soil
  4. flat file (keep the sharp edge sharp!!)
  5. 15-oz measure for water (tapered Bumblebee salmon can works well)
  6. plastic bag or wrap for protecting soil against fall of water
  7. sharpshooter shovel for excavating rings after use (good observation opportunity for soil structure, roots, etc.)

For some more tips and instructions, see also our Guide:

soilcarboncoalition.org/files/guide.pdf#page=83