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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Hydraulic Coring System for Soil-Root Studies

Authors
item Prior, Stephen
item Runion, George
item Torbert, Henry
item Erbach, Donald

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 18, 2004
Publication Date: July 1, 2004
Citation: Prior, S.A., Runion, G.B., Torbert III, H.A., Erbach, D.C. 2004. A hydraulic coring system for soil-root studies. Agronomy Journal. 96(4):1202-1205.

Interpretive Summary: Reliable sampling of belowground components in the field is essential to agroecosystem research. Factors such as hardpans and dry soil conditions often increase sampling time and impede adequate sampling.This system, mounted to the front end of a small tractor was used to insert and extract small and large diameter soil core tubes. The hydraulicly driven telescoping device pushed the core tube into the ground and the hydraulic post driver was activated only when insertion was slowed or stopped. This combination overcomes soil strength problems and the use of a small tractor minimized weight requirements, improved plot accessibility, and was less labor intensive than hand-operated systems. In repeated field tests the coring system has performed efficiently and reliably on different soil types.

Technical Abstract: Reliable sampling of belowground components in the field is essential to agroecosystem research. Factors such as hardpans and dry soil conditions often increase sampling time and impede adequate sampling. The objective was to design and construct a soil coring system for rapid field sampling that minimized such limitations. Cores were extracted using a custom-made telescoping hydraulic cylinder device assisted by a hydraulic post driver mounted to the front of a small tractor. The telescoping device inserted the core tube into the ground and the post driver was activated only when insertion was slowed or stopped. The tractor's hydraulics powered the telescoping device and the post driver; both were controlled by the tractor operator. Custom driving heads were constructed to fit the upper end of core tubes to collect large diameter soil samples (24.5 cm diameter x 0.6 m deep) or small samples (3.8 cm diameter x 1.0 m deep). As many as 14 large cores or 24 small cores per hour could be collected with this system. The coring system has been successfully used on various soil types and to sample both agricultural and forest sites for a number of experimental objectives.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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