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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

An investigation in laser diffraction soil particle size distribution analysis to obtain compatible results with sieve and pipette method

Svensson, David Nimblad; Messing, Ingmar; Barron, Jennie


Recent studies have shown that soil particle size analyses using laser diffraction method (LDM) can give compatible results compared with traditional sedimentation based methods, if the clay-silt particle size cutoff is transformed. Additionally, procedures including separation of the sand fraction by wet sieving and running a well dispersed sample of only fractions smaller than sand during laser diffraction measurement, have given promising results. The main purpose of the present study was to test a combination of these approaches for determining cutoff transformed LDM values on 44 soil samples from agricultural sites spread over Sweden, including its compatibility with the sieve and pipette method (SPM). Furthermore, these results were compared with results of transformed LDM values based on pedotransfer functions between measured LDM and SPM. Also LDM related aspects concerning scattering parameters, repeatability and organic matter calculations were studied. To find the optimum clay-silt cutoff, Lin's concordance correlation coefficient (Lin's CCC) was calculated. The highest value (0.977) was found with the 3.409-3.905 mu m bin (a refractive index of 1.52 and an absorption coefficient of 0.1 was used). The pedotransfer-transformed LDM approach showed equally high Lin acute accent s CCC as the cutoff-transformed approach for the different soil particle fraction size classes. With the cutofftransformed LDM approach, 36 out of 44 samples were assigned to the same texture class as SPM, and with the pedotransfer-transformed LDM, the corresponding number was similar (34 out of 44 samples). The results here are promising for application in routine soil analyses, but more specific transformed clay-silt cutoffs and pedotransfer functions for LDM versus SPM should ideally be established for different types of soils. For this, microscopy and image analysis methods to help understand and quantify the influence of particle shapes on obtained particle size distributions are useful.


Soil; Particle size distribution; Laser diffraction; Soil texture; Particle shape

Published in

Soil and Tillage Research
2022, Volume: 223, article number: 105450