Influence of Saturated Organic Matter on the Accuracy of In-Situ Measurements Recorded with a Nuclear Moisture and Density Gauge

2021 | journal article. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Influence of Saturated Organic Matter on the Accuracy of In-Situ Measurements Recorded with a Nuclear Moisture and Density Gauge​
Labelle, E. R. & Jaeger, D.​ (2021) 
Croatian Journal of Forest Engineering42(2) pp. 357​-367​.​ DOI: 

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Labelle, Eric R.; Jaeger, Dirk
The impact of machines on forest soils is regularly assessed and quantified using absolute bulk density, which is most frequently obtained by soil cores. However, to allow for repeated measurements at the exact same locations, non-destructive devices are increasingly being used to determine soil bulk density and moisture content in field studies. An example of such a device is a nuclear moisture and density gauge (NMDG), originally designed as a control measurement for soil bulk density and moisture content in geotechnical applications. Unlike road construction or foundation projects that use mineral soil or gravel, forest soils have complex structures and the presence of organic matter, which can skew moisture and density readings from a NMDG. To gain further knowledge in this respect, we performed controlled tests in a sandbox to quantify the influence of varying amounts of saturated organic matter (3, 5, 10, and 15%) mixed with mineral soil in different layers (0–5, 0–10, 0–20 and 0–40 cm) on the accuracy of soil moisture content obtained by a NMDG and soil theta probe at varying depths. Main results illustrated that the presence of saturated organic matter per se was not problematic but moisture content overestimations and related underestimation of dry bulk density occurred when the tested measurement depth was below the created organic layer. Since forest soils often exhibit higher organic matter contents in the upper horizon, correction factors are suggested to minimize the moisture content variations between NMDG and reference method. With the use of correction factors, NMDG can present a non-destructive, fast, and accurate method of measuring soil moisture and bulk density in forestry applications.
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Croatian Journal of Forest Engineering 
Fakultät für Forstwissenschaften und Waldökologie ; Burckhardt-Institut ; Abteilung Arbeitswissenschaft und Verfahrenstechnologie 



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