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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

System for quasi-continuous simultaneous measurement of oxygen diffusion rate and redox potential in soil

Reiser, Rene; Stadelmann, Viktor; Weisskopf, Peter; Grahm, Lina; Keller, Thomas


Oxygen diffusion rate (ODR) and redox potential (E-H) are quantitative indices representing oxygen availability and redox status in soils, which is valuable information for better understanding causes and effects of soil aeration. Because these indices are spatially and temporally highly variable, continuous measurements and adequate numbers of repetitions are essential for accurate in situ monitoring. Here, we present a new, fully automated recording system for in situ measurements where ODR and E-H are measured at the same platinum electrode. The conflict between electrode polarization for ODR and the resulting biased E-H readings is solved by reducing the polarization time and introducing a recovery interval between two consecutive measurement cycles. The shorter polarization time ensures accurate E-H readings. It also results in moderately overestimated ODR readings, but this can be corrected before data analysis. The recovery interval restricts temporal resolution of the E-H-ODR data pairs to 8 h. We illustrate the use of the system with measurements in a field experiment in Zurich, Switzerland. ODR curves at different depths ran roughly parallel to the corresponding curves of O-2 concentration in soil air but ODR was much more sensitive to precipitation. Low ODR was a necessary but not a sufficient condition for declining E-H. E-H ran parallel to O-2 concentration in soil air rather than to ODR. The fully automated system allows for time series of replicate measurements in multifactorial field studies with reasonable labor requirements. It may be particularly suitable for studies examining the effects of soil tillage, compaction, and irrigation, where structure-related soil properties such as porosity, gas permeability, and soil aeration play a dominant role.


field soil; measurement system; monitoring; soil aeration; soil heterogeneity

Published in

Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science
2020, Volume: 183, number: 3, pages: 316-326

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG15 Life on land

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Soil Science

    Publication identifier


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