Soil Stability

contributed by Karen Colson and Jason Karl

Method Type

Soil Properties – Quantitative

Other Names

None known

Description and Uses

The Soil Stability Test provides information about the integrity of soil aggregates, degree of soil structural development, and erosion resistance. It also reflects soil biotic integrity, because the organic matter that binds soil particles together must constantly be renewed by plant roots and soil organisms. This test measures the soil’s stability when exposed to rapid wetting. Soil aggregate stability is affected by texture (soil particle size) and biotic and mineral constituents that may be present, so it is important to limit comparisons to similar soils that have similar amounts of sand, silt and clay. This method requires a soil stability kit.

This test should be used in combination with vegetation measurements, and stratified by vegetative cover. Herrick et al. 2005 suggest using these indicators together with the indicators from Line-point intercept and Gap intercept to help determine whether observed erosion changes are due to loss of cover, changes in vegetation spatial distribution or reduced soil stability.

Advantages and Limitations

The Soil stability test is a relatively simple test that is sensitive to complex changes in physical, chemical and biological processes, which are the processes that “glue” soil particles together. It permits immediate interpretation and facilitates additional sampling when results are unclear. In addition, it is fairly rapid and together with indicators calculated from the Line-point and Gap intercept measurements, can generate information relevant to the infiltration capacity of the soil.


Video Instructions/Demonstration

Soil Stability Video

Technical and Application References

Similar Approaches

Other methods that measure soil properties include Soil Infiltration and Soil Compaction.

Data Forms

Printable data forms for the soil stability method can be downloaded from

Electronic data forms can be found at the following sites

Additional Information

Soil stability kits and impact penetrometers can be purchased from the following vendors:

  1. Synergy Resource Solutions, Jack Alexander
    Synergy Resource Solutions, Inc.
    1755 Hymer Ave.
    Sparks, NV 89431
    (775)-331-5577 Office
    (775)-331-5579 Fax
    (775)-772-5123 Cell
  2. Darbyshire Machine, Jack Darbyshire
    501 W. O’Hara Road
    Anthony, NM 88021

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