Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Martin F. Jurgensen; Deborah S. Page-Dumroese; Robert E. Brown; Joanne M. Tirocke; Chris A. Miller; James B. Pickens; Min Wang
    Date: 2017
    Source: Soil Science Society of America Journal. 81: 1689-1696.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (808.0 KB)


    Soils with high rock content are common in many US forests, and contain large amounts of stored C. Accurate measurements of soil bulk density and rock content are critical for calculating and assessing changes in both C and nutrient pool size, but bulk density sampling methods have limitations and sources of variability. Therefore, we evaluated the use of small-diameter soil cores (SD), irregular soil volume excavation (IR), and a nuclear density gauge (ND) to measure bulk density and rock content, and estimate C and N pools in three 10-cm increments to a 30-cm depth in a glacial till soil in northern Wisconsin. Total and fine bulk densities were lower when measured with SD cores than with larger soil volume IR and ND methods. No differences in C pools among bulk density sampling methods were found in the 10-cm increments, but when combined to 30 cm, the C pool estimate with IR (81.6 Mg ha-1) was significantly higher than those of ND (75.3 Mg ha-1) and SD (73.4 Mg ha-1). No significant differences in N pools were detected in the 10-cm increments, but the 0- to 30-cm N pool estimates by IR (5.65 Mg ha-1) and ND (5 Mg ha-1) were higher than that of SD (4.22 Mg ha-1). Surface rocks could lower soil C and N pools by 20% or more. Overall, the bulk density method had little effect on soil C and N pool estimates in the surface 20 cm of this soil but did when sampled to 30 cm soil depth.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Jurgensen, Martin F.; Page-Dumroese, Deborah S.; Brown, Robert E.; Tirocke, Joanne M.; Miller, Chris A.; Pickens, James B.; Wang, Min. 2017. Estimating carbon and nitrogen pools in a forest soil: Influence of soil bulk density methods and rock content. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 81: 1689-1696.


    Google Scholar


    irregular soil volume excavation, nuclear density gauge, organic matter, small-diameter soil cores

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page