Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Shovels II

If you don't immediately want to add "Electric Boogooloo" to the end of that, well, then I can't help you. I figure I should talk about other shovels I carry around with me for the 3 soil scientists who found my blog. They exist!

There a number of smaller shovels you should consider when you're working in the field. you need something for pulling out peds to asses structure and texture. You also need to clean up the face of the pedon so you can snap a pretty picture. Soil can be amazingly beautiful, see?(Don't use that shovel, it's a military issue trenching tool. The handle is less than 3 feet long and it suuucks. Easy to pack, though)

On to important trowel tools. I like the simple folding trowel called the U-dig-it. It comes with a little carrying case with a belt loop. You would look totally cool if you wore it on your belt next to your leatherman and cell phone. This works for mineral soils, but it's all but useless when digging in deep peats.

Other options include a Japanese soil knife. This is not as packable as the small trowel, but it looks super tough if you wear it around. It's also way better for sawing into deep, organic soils. One side is serrated so it can be used to saw through roots and whatnot. It has a curved blade that is ostensibly good for planting seeds.
I don't actually own one of these. I have a rusty old tool:
I have it on it's own belt so I can wear it Bandalero-style over my rain gear. It comes with a totally useless sharpening stone in the little pocket on the front. This was new last year, leather doesn't really hold up too well when it rains so damn much.

Hey all you other soil folks, what do you use? I'm always on the look out for the newest in soily tools. Let me know!


  1. I was gifted a Running Bunny (top knife picture) from NRCS Alaska and lost it shortly after moving to NRCS California. So now I use the knife shown in the bottom picture. It's pretty good, but I prefer the R.B. because you can use the beveled surface to collect lots of soil as you stab.

  2. Yeah, my boss lost his Running Bunny this past summer too. Really, nothing beats it for the ability to dig at histosols.