Soil Monolith

This soil monolith is located 2600 meters above sea level in the district of Punakha. This piece of soil will travel more than 7000 km, to Wageningen, where it will be displayed in the World Soil Museum. I was lucky to be able to join the NSSC Soil Survey Unit and researchers from the WUR for the day. This is their last soil monolith sample they took and I was there to witness it.

The procedure to take this roughly 150cm by 30cm sample wasn’t easy… It took the whole day with a lot of digging, chipping and slicing in order to obtain this soil sample. The NSSC and WUR workforce displayed great craft, care and cooperation.

This soil has a strong reddish colour due to the high iron content. This soil also displayed signs of cracking due to the dry weather conditions. This is also an indication that there is a fairly high clay content.  Through a simple method of adding water to the soil and rolling it into a thin cylindrical form in our palm, we determined that the soil texture was loamy. The aim of this method is to try and form a circle from the cylindrical shaped soil, however, the soil kept breaking... This meant that the clay content was not very high, but probably a mixture of sand, silt and clay.

The weather conditions for this soil are also pretty interesting. Even though we were very high up, a sunny yet windy subtropical weather prevailed. 

Above the soil monolith, you can also see a young pine tree local to the Bhutanese Himalayas. This is a Pinus Bhutanica. They have very long needles and sway soothingly in the strong winds.

Overall, I am very happy to have been on this trip.