Biology Lab Manual

Exercise 15 Three methods are suggested here. Any one of these may be followed. Method I (i) Collect about 300–500g of soil from two different locations. Label them as sample A and B. (ii) Dry the samples in an oven, or stove or in sun to remove the soil moisture (capillary and bound water). (iii) Select the 3 sieves of different mesh sizes (2mm, 0.05mm and 0.002mm). Arrange them in a collecting chamber as shown in Fig. 15.2. (iv) Place 200g of the soil in the Ist sieve (sieve of 2mm mesh) and close the lid. To sieve the soil, shake the set manually for 5–10 minutes and collect the three soil fractions. LABORATORY MANUAL: BIOLOGY (v) Weigh the soil fractions viz-sand, silt and clay collected in the 3 compartments Wt of soil sample taken – .........g Wt of sand fraction – .........g Wt of silt fraction – .........g silt and clay respectively. Note that (i) the percentage Fig.15.2 Sieve set lines for clay run paralled to the base line of sand, (ii) the precentage lines of silt run parallel to the clay side of the triangle and, (iii) perentage lines of sand run parallel to the silt silde of the triangle. In reading the textural triangle, any two particle fractions will locate the textural class at the point where these two intersect. Soil sample Percentage (%) Texture class Sand Silt Clay A B Note for Teachers: The sieve sets contain a number and an abbreviation BSS/ASTM/ ISS on each sieve. In the given table (Table No. 15.1) the corresponding aperture size of the sieves is listed. For example, BSS 30 sieve aperture size will be 500 microns. 54 EXERCISE 15 Appendix 1 Table 15.1 Mesh No. and the corresponding Aperture size Sl. No. BSS Mesh ASTM Mesh ISS Mesh Aperture 1 4 5 480 4.75 mm 2 5 6 340 3.35 mm 3 6 7 280 2.80 mm 4 7 8 240 2.36 mm 5 8 10 200 2.00 mm 6 10 12 170 1.70 mm 7 12 14 140 1.40 mm 8 14 16 120 1.18 mm 9 16 18 100 1.00 mm 10 18 20 85 850 micron 11 22 25 70 710 micron 12 25 30 60 600 micron 13 30 35 50 500 micron 14 36 40 40 425 micron 15 44 45 35 355 micron 16 52 50 30 300 micron 17 60 60 25 250 micron 18 72 70 20 212 micron 19 85 80 18 180 micron 20 100 100 15 150 micron 21 120 120 12 125 micron 22 150 140 10 106 micron 23 170 170 9 90 micron 24 200 200 8 75 micron 25 240 230 6 63 micron 26 300 270 5 53 micron 27 350 325 4 45 micron 28 400 380 3 38 micron 29 25 micron 55 LABORATORY MANUAL: BIOLOGY Method II Texture by Feel The texture of the soil sample can also be estimated by feeling it in the dry, moist and wet states. Sand is coarse and gritty, silt feels smooth like flour and clay is sticky and plastic. The smallest soil particles that one can see are coarse silt. Feel the known texture samples first, then feel the unknown ones and decide their textures. (i) Feel the dry soil first. Does it crumble easily or is it hard to break? Hard soil samples contain a moderate amount of clay. (ii) Take in your palm a lump of soil sample about the size of a one-rupee coin and wet it to the consistency of modeling clay. Try to press it into a ribbon between the thumb and forefinger. An alternate test is to form a wire by rolling the wet soil until it is about 1/8" in diameter. (iii) If a long wire or ribbon can be formed readily the soil is plastic and probably contains over 40% of clay. Its texture must therefore be clay/ silty clay/or sandy clay. If a ribbon or wire can be formed easily but also breaks easily, the soil sample is probably a clay loam/silty clay loam/or sandy clay loam. A heavy loam/silt loam/or sandy loam sample may form ribbon or a wire if the moisture content is just right but these will be still weaker than the ribbons and wires formed by the clay loam samples. (iv) Next determine whether sand or silt is dominant. If there is a gritty feel without the smooth floury touch of silt, choose a texture-name that includes the word ‘sandy’. If the smooth floury feel predominates and there is not much gritty feel, choose one of the ‘silty’ texture names. Use the name without a prefix if neither smoothness nor grittiness predominates (simply clay or sand or silt). Often this can best be determined by adding more water until the soil is in a wet state. If the soil is very sandy, you must choose between sandy loam, loamy sand and sand. In the moist state, sandy loam samples will have some tendency to stick together but loam sand and sand samples will not do so. Use the wet state to determine whether a sample is sand or loamy sand. After handling wet sand, your hands will be moist but clean loamy sand will make the hands slightly soiled. 56 EXERCISE 15 Method III Requirements: Soil samples, balance, weights, glass rod, standard sieves of 2mm and 0.5mm mesh size, blotting sheets/old newspapers, evaporating dish and water (i) Collect 200-300g of soil samples from different sites, and dry them as suggested previously to remove the moisture. (ii) Sieve the sample through a 2mm sieve to remove stones, pebbles, roots etc. (iii) Take 100-150 g of the sieved soil sample and further sieve it through a 0.05 mm sieve to separate the sand fraction (collected in the sieve) from silt and clay (collected on a blotting sheet). Weigh the amount of sand fraction and silt + clay fraction. (iv) Take a large evaporating dish (a shallow clay plate, glass trough or a shallow iron plate) and record its weight. (v) Add the clay and silt fraction to the dish and note the weight. (vi) Add water to the dish leaving half an inch space empty at the top and stir the liquid thoroughly with a glass rod taking care that the contents do not spill out. Allow it to stand for several hours. Decant off the cloudy supernatant liquid (clay fraction). Repeat the process three to four times until the decanted liquid is quite clear. (vii) Dry the silt left in the evaporating dish to dryness. Cool the dish and weigh it. Record your observation in the following table: A B Weight of the soil sample taken Weight of sand fraction Weight of silt & clay fraction Weight of silt fraction Subtract the weight of silt fraction from the weight of silt + clay fraction. The difference will be the weight of clay decanted. Calculate the % of sand, silt and clay fraction of the soil and express the texture. 57 LABORATORY MANUAL: BIOLOGY Correlate the texture with the plants growing in the area from which the soil sample has been collected. Discuss how the texture of soil can affect the root penetration, tillage, soil aeration, moisture content, water holding capacity and other aspects related to plant growth. In sandy soil the non-capillary pore spaces will be more and the capillary pore spaces will be less. The condition will be reverse in case of clay soil. The pore space in turn determines water holding capacity, percolation rate, aeration, root penetration and soil flora and fauna. Clay particles are anionic colloides and adsorb mineral nutrients and minimise their leaching. Questions 1. Which type of soil is better for root-penetration and better aeration? 2. Among sandy and clay soil which one has higher water holding capacity? Explain. 3. If the clay content is high, will it affect soil fertility? Explain. 4. Which type soil has poor nutrient status and high leaching? 5. What kind of plants grow in smooth texture soil? Name two plants that grow in heavy-textured soil. 58

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