#Sciencedeskdigs: Soil Sampling Kit

several small soil filters in a clear plastic box

NPS Photo/ M.Reed

Jordan Spaak, an Ecologist with the Biological Resource Division, explains why he has a bunch of mini spaghetti strainers on his desk.

What is it? 

It’s actually a soil stability sampling kit. We use this to tool to assess if the soil is susceptible to erosion, what soil conditions are like for plants to grow, and if the soil is compacted from animals with hooves.  We can also use this tool to learn about soil health.  Here’s how the sampling kit works: I go to a park, and as I walk along a transect I scoop up pieces of soil into the filters from the ground’s surface.  Then I fill up each compartment with water and place the soil and filter in the water for a specific amount of time and watch the soil either breakdown or stay intact.  I’ll be using this next summer at Dinosaur National Monument to help the park with rangeland health assessments, which will help inform us about the status of the rangeland ecosystem. 

Describe your workplace in one word?

Messy