Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis

Book Review: Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis.
Edited by M.R. Carter and E.G. Gregorich. 2nd ed. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, 6000 Broken Sound Pkwy. NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487. 2007. 1224 p. $149.95. ISBN 978-0-8493-3586-0.

By Mingxin Guo (

Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis, Second EditionFundamental protocols and practical procedures are essential for producers, students, scientists, and management agencies in agriculture, forestry, and environmental conservation to collect, prepare, and analyze soils representative of the test sites.

The book Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis (second edition) provides a compilation of updated, most commonly used, and recommended methods for soil sampling and analysis. It is a hands-on guide and a methods manual for sampling and testing different soils for their physical, chemical, biological, and environmental properties.

The book Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis book consists of 85 chapters in 7 sections written by 140 international soil scientists. Section I– Soil Sampling and Handling presents sampling, handling, and storage principles of agricultural and forest soils for nutrient inventories, organic carbon dynamics, and geostatistical analysis. Quality control in soil chemical analysis is discussed.

Section II– Diagnostic Methods for Soil and Environmental Management describes popular methods for assessing plant availability and environmental susceptibility of nutrients in soils.

Section III– Soil Chemical Analyses covers common methods for various soil chemical properties including extractable/exchangeable elements and soil solution chemistry.

Section IV– Soil Biological Analyses discusses methods for measuring soil organism communities and biological nitrogen processes.

Section V– Soil Organic Matter Analyses presents methods for characterizing soil organic matter and its mineralization rate.

Section VI– Soil Physical Analyses describes practical methods for soil density, texture, pore size, aggregate stability, compressibility, gas exchange, and other physical properties.

Section VII– Soil Water Analyses provides methods for analyzing soil water content, potential, and hydraulic properties. In addition, two appendices are included: site description and general safe laboratory operation procedures.

The book Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis is an update of the first version published in 1993. New chapters are added to introduce the emerging interests in soil physical, chemical, and biological analyses, while the retained chapters are fully modified to incorporate the latest advances.

For each of the covered topics, a succinct introduction is given to review the pertinent literature and compare the advantages and disadvantages of existing methods. Commonly used methods with high adaptability are then recommended. The materials and procedures for these methods are presented in straightforward language with adequate details, easy to understand and follow.

Key references are provided at the end of each chapter, helpful for readers to track the method evolution history and assess the potential and limitation of each method. For example, in Chapter 24, four methods are introduced for measuring soil total phosphorous: perchloric acid digestion, sodium hypobormite/sodium hydroxide alkaline oxidation, sulfuric acid/hydrogen peroxide/hydrofluoric acid digestion, and sulfuric acid/hydrogen peroxide/lithium sulfate/selenium digestion.

The book provides a wide array of methods for sampling agricultural, forest, and organic soils and analyzing their physical, chemical, and biological properties. Similar contents have taken three SSSA Methods of Soil Analysis books each with comparable pages to cover.

Due to the page limitation, methods for characterizing soil mineralogy are not included in the book. Some common terms are missing, such as soil infiltration rate and field water holding capacity.

The book is well written and logically organized. Methods have been selected for accuracy, rapidity, and ease of operation. Two M.S. students practiced the ammonium acetate method described in the book to measure soil exchangeable cations and total exchange capacity. Their comments are “very easy to understand, follow, and use.” Indeed the book is a resource handbook for soil testing laboratories and a benchmark reference for students and professionals in agriculture, geosciences, environmental science, and related disciplines.

Book Review: Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis.
Source: Journal of Environmental Quality   2009 38:375-375

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