Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Methods of soil resampling to monitor changes in the chemical concentrations of forest soils

January 11, 2017

Recent soils research has shown that important chemical soil characteristics can change in less than a decade, often the result of broad environmental changes. Repeated sampling to monitor these changes in forest soils is a relatively new practice that is not well documented in the literature and has only recently been broadly embraced by the scientific community. The objective of this protocol is therefore to synthesize the latest information on methods of soil resampling in a format that can be used to design and implement a soil monitoring program. Successful monitoring of forest soils requires that a study unit be defined within an area of forested land that can be characterized with replicate sampling locations. A resampling interval of 5 years is recommended, but if monitoring is done to evaluate a specific environmental driver, the rate of change expected in that driver should be taken into consideration. Here, we show that the sampling of the profile can be done by horizon where boundaries can be clearly identified and horizons are sufficiently thick to remove soil without contamination from horizons above or below. Otherwise, sampling can be done by depth interval. Archiving of sample for future reanalysis is a key step in avoiding analytical bias and providing the opportunity for additional analyses as new questions arise.