Ag Data Commons
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Data and code from: A high throughput approach for measuring soil slaking index

posted on 2024-06-06, 20:14 authored by Claire PhillipsClaire Phillips, Bryan Emmett, Joaquin Casanova, Robert Meadows

This dataset includes soil wet aggregate stability measurements from the Upper Mississippi River Basin LTAR site in Ames, Iowa. Samples were collected in 2021 from this long-term tillage and cover crop trial in a corn-based agroecosystem.

We measured wet aggregate stability using digital photography to quantify disintegration (slaking) of submerged aggregates over time, similar to the technique described by Fajardo et al. (2016) and Rieke et al. (2021). However, we adapted the technique to larger sample numbers by using a multi-well tray to submerge 20-36 aggregates simultaneously. We used this approach to measure slaking index of 160 soil samples (2120 aggregates).

This dataset includes slaking index calculated for each aggregates, and also summarized by samples. There were usually 10-12 aggregates measured per sample.

We focused primarily on methodological issues, assessing the statistical power of slaking index, needed replication, sensitivity to cultural practices, and sensitivity to sample collection date. We found that small numbers of highly unstable aggregates lead to skewed distributions for slaking index. We concluded at least 20 aggregates per sample were preferred to provide confidence in measurement precision. However, the experiment had high statistical power with only 10-12 replicates per sample. Slaking index was not sensitive to the initial size of dry aggregates (3 to 10 mm diameter); therefore, pre-sieving soils was not necessary. The field trial showed greater aggregate stability under no-till than chisel plow practice, and changing stability over a growing season. These results will be useful to researchers and agricultural practitioners who want a simple, fast, low-cost method for measuring wet aggregate stability on many samples.


USDA-ARS: 5030-12000-015

USDA-ARS: 2090-11000-0080


Data contact name

Phillips, Claire L.

Data contact email


Ag Data Commons

Intended use

These data and scripts can be used to recreate the results in the associated manuscript "A high throughput approach for measuring soil slaking index" by Phillips et al. Soil Science Society of America Journal. Accepted 2024.

Use limitations

Users reanalyzing these data should cite the associated manuscript as well as the dataset. Please contact the authors to notify us if using these data.

Temporal Extent Start Date


Temporal Extent End Date



  • monthly


  • Non-geospatial

Geographic Coverage


Geographic location - description

Kelly tile experiment, Upper Mississippi River Basin Long-term Agroecosystem Research (UMRB-LTAR) site near Ames, Iowa 42.05°N, 93.71°W

ISO Topic Category

  • farming

National Agricultural Library Thesaurus terms

soil slaking; data collection; aggregate stability; Mississippi River; watersheds; Long-Term Agroecosystem Research Network; Iowa; cover crops; agroecosystems; digital images; soil sampling; field experimentation; no-tillage; plows; growing season

OMB Bureau Code

  • 005:18 - Agricultural Research Service

OMB Program Code

  • 005:040 - National Research

ARS National Program Number

  • 216

ARIS Log Number


Pending citation

  • No

Public Access Level

  • Public

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