Backpacking for field work

One of the blogs of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) has a nice feature about field rucksacks. Scientists reveal what they pack into their rucksack when they departure for field work. I have already introduced you to my field work at cockchafer infested sites in Germany, and now you will also get a chance to peek into my field rucksack.

Field transportation

But before I can unpack my field rucksack at a measurement site, I first have to get there. What I really like about Germany is the fact that one can reach almost any location by public transport. I usually take the train and for covering the distance between a train station and a field site, I have my bicycle. The bicycle is also very useful to carry the spade used for soil excavations.

Field equipment

And here is a list of all the items you can find when unpacking my field rucksack.

  1. A small suitcase with audio equipment (microphones and an external amplifier) for spying on cockchafer larvae in the soil.
  2. A folder with data sheets (one for each excavated soil plot).
  3. 35 glass test tubes (110 ml volume each) with rubber stoppers for a) incubation of larvae to quantify their methane emissions, and b) transport of bulk soil samples.
  4. A suitcase containing a sensor and data logger for measuring soil moisture and soil temperature at different soil depths. The suitcase can also be used as a small table.
  5. Stainless steel cylinders with caps to collect undisturbed soil samples. Undisturbed soil samples are necessary to quantify dry bulk density and gravimetric soil moisture content.
  6. A knife.
  7. A small scale to weigh excavated cockchafer larvae.
  8. A plastic box with useful small items (pens, batteries, hollow needles for syringes, ect.).
  9. A stop watch to time larval incubations in the glass test tubes.
  10. The other half of my audio equipment – headphones and an audio recorder.
  11. A water and dirt proof field book for taking notes in addition to what is recorded on the data sheets.
  12. A small shovel.
  13. A spoon (which I actually never used…)
  14. A box containing evacuated glass vials for gas sample collection and storage, and two plastic syringes (one spare) for gas sampling.
  15. A mobile, handheld weather station for measuring air temperature, air pressure, relative air humidity, and wind speed. A GPS device to determine the exact position of each dug up soil plot.
  16. From left to right: a tool to insert stainless steel cylinders into soil without disturbing it, a knife to remove protruding soil from the cylinders after sampling, a hammer to drive the steel cylinder tool into the soil, a folding yardstick, and wooden sticks to mark the plots for excavation.
  17. Sunscreen, insect repellent, disposable gloves (cockchafer larvae are not “house-trained”), plastic bags for bulk soil samples and trash, and tape.