Every good farm establishment should have a room or a cabinet in which the museum materials of the particular farm are collected, — soils, minerals, plants, insects, curiosities, and the like.
Collecting and Storing Samples of Soil (Fippin)
The farmer should know his soil. The collecting of soils and their preservation and study has been a source of much interest to some persons, — quite as much as the collecting of seeds, plants, or souvenirs. To secure samples that fairly represent a particular soil-formation or soil-region requires much care in selection. Soils usually vary greatly from point to point. They also vary at different depths. Usually the top soil is more rich in organic matter than the subsoil. It is therefore best to take small samples from a number of points in an area of a few square rods and mix them together, and preserve the desired sample from this composite lot.
Some arbitrary depth must be chosen, and one foot is best on the average. Since the subsoil is also of great importance, it is desirable to have a sample taken from one to two feet in the same holes as the top soil. A common wood auger one and one-half inches in diameter with a handle sufficient to make a total length of thirty-six, with an eight-inch pipe cross bar at the top, is most convenient for collecting samples in soils that are not excessively stony. The stem may be made in sections, connecting by means of milled threads.
Before being finally stored, the soil samples should be thoroughly dried on a piece of paper in the air. Collection should not be made when the soil is so wet as to puddle, and the sample would preferably not be pulverized after drying.
The amount of the sample must depend on the object of the work. For general study and analysis, one quart is usually abundant, and one pint is often adequate for chemical and physical analysis. For private collections, even smaller samples put up in four- or six-ounce vials of five or six inches in length, straight sides, and metal screw-top, are very convenient. Regular specimen-jars holding about one-third of a pint or more and with cork in the bottom are excellent for small samples. For larger samples, screw-top glass fruit-jars are usually the most convenient form of storage vessel.
For shipping samples, a stout canvas bag closely woven and simply labeled on a tag is most convenient, and several such samples may be inclosed in a large bag of the same material.