ASTM D2980 - 17

    Standard Test Method for Saturated Density, Moisture-Holding Capacity, and Porosity of Saturated Peat Materials

    Active Standard ASTM D2980 | Developed by Subcommittee: D18.22

    Book of Standards Volume: 04.08


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    Significance and Use

    5.1 This test method measures the air-filled spaces (porosity) and the moisture-holding capacity of peat on both a mass and a volume basis under conditions of saturation. If large spaces are present, water and air can penetrate easily. If spaces are smaller, the water holding capacity is increased. Water holding capacity is larger in humified peat materials (small inter-particulate spaces) (sapric soil), whereas water and air-penetration is larger in unhumified peat (larger inter-particulate spaces) (fibric soil). The spaces can also be an indication of the oxygen available to the plant roots. As such, the interplay of the properties of moisture holding capacity and porosity dictate the best use of the harvested organic soil material as well as the best management practices for organic soils. The moisture retention relationships of these soils are critical to decisions involving irrigation, drainage, and bearing capacity of these soil.

    Note 1: The quality of the result produced by this standard is dependent on the competence of the personnel performing it, and the suitability of the equipment and facilities used. Agencies that meet the criteria of Practice D3740 are generally considered capable of competent and objective testing/sampling/inspection/etc. Users of this standard are cautioned that compliance with Practice D3740 does not in itself assure reliable results. Reliable results depend on many factors; Practice D3740 provides a means of evaluating some of those factors.

    5.2 Water retention values are particularly important in the management of organic soils. There is much confusion in the literature about the moisture retention values being expressed in various bases; as a percent by volume; as a percent of oven dry mass; or as the percent of the wet mass. In some management decisions, it is necessary to express the water contents of organic soils on a volume basis because of their varied bulk densities, but because of the volume reduction occurring on drying, the water contents must also be expressed on a wet volume basis as collected in the field. Whereas, in other management decisions, moisture retention values are best expressed on a dry mass basis. For example, the difference in mass between the wet and oven dry sample is the moisture held. These values are best expressed on a dry mass basis. Water holding capacities show a marked difference due to the degree of decomposition in an organic soil. The mass of water in fibric soil may be as much as 20 times the mass of the solid particles, whereas that held in a sapric soil contains less than twice the mass. If the water holding capacity is expressed on a volume basis these differences are much less apparent.

    1. Scope

    1.1 This test method was designed to evaluate the aeration, water penetration, and water retention properties of peat under field conditions of water saturation by measurement of the saturated density, the moisture holding capacity, and the porosity.

    1.2 Units—The values stated in SI units are being regarded as standard. The values given in parentheses are mathematical conversions to inch-pound units, which are provided for information only and are not considered standard.

    1.3 All observed and calculated values shall conform to the guidelines for significant digits and rounding established in Practice D6026.

    1.3.1 The procedures used to specify how data are collected/recorded or calculated in this standard are regarded as the industry standard. In addition, they are representative of the significant digits that generally should be retained. The procedures used do not consider material variation, purpose for obtaining the data, special purpose studies, or any considerations for the user’s objectives; and it is common practice to increase or reduce significant digits of reported data to be commensurate with these considerations. It is beyond the scope of this standard to consider significant digits used in analysis methods for engineering design

    1.4 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.


    2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.

    ASTM Standards

    D653 Terminology Relating to Soil, Rock, and Contained Fluids

    D2974 Test Methods for Moisture, Ash, and Organic Matter of Peat and Other Organic Soils

    D3740 Practice for Minimum Requirements for Agencies Engaged in Testing and/or Inspection of Soil and Rock as Used in Engineering Design and Construction

    D4753 Guide for Evaluating, Selecting, and Specifying Balances and Standard Masses for Use in Soil, Rock, and Construction Materials Testing

    D6026 Practice for Using Significant Digits in Geotechnical Data

    E11 Specification for Woven Wire Test Sieve Cloth and Test Sieves


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 65.080 (Fertilizers)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code 15101603(Peat)


    Referencing This Standard
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    DOI: 10.1520/D2980-17

    Citation Format

    ASTM D2980-17, Standard Test Method for Saturated Density, Moisture-Holding Capacity, and Porosity of Saturated Peat Materials, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2017, www.astm.org

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