Abstract

A new practical and precise method for determining soil aggregate stability is described. Four air-dry aggregate fractions (<0.25, 0.25–0.5, 0.5–1.0 and 1.0–2.0 mm) were added to thoroughly stirred water in a Mastersizer 2000 laser diffractometer. The suspension obtained was passed directly through the measuring system. The dynamics of median (equivalent diameter d50) particle-size distribution decrease (interpolated with a logarithmic function) was assumed to be the measure of soil aggregate stability. In order to show the applicability of the new method, the results obtained (for selected and diverse soils) were compared with those from the wet sieving standard method. The main conclusion is that the proposed method is convenient and can be successfully used for the estimation of soil aggregate stability. Moreover, it has wider application because standard sieving methods are restricted to aggregates >0.25 mm whereas, with the use of the laser diffraction method, smaller aggregates can be measured. The energy delivered to the aggregates in the process of aggregate disintegration is more reproducible in the method described here. The method also provides an opportunity to verify that the soil aggregates are completely destroyed (lack of the changes of the median value shows the end of soil aggregate disintegration).

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