Monitoring soil structure changes after compaction

June 19, 2017, American Society of Agronomy
Ponding water after rainfall in wheel tracks of the bare soil treatment one year after compaction. Credit: T. Keller.

Soil compaction is a global threat to soil ecosystem services, causing tremendous costs to society. The costs of soil compaction are borne by the cumulative loss of soil functionality (e.g. yield loss) following a compaction event until the soil has functionally recovered. Although soil compaction is relatively widely studied, there is a lack of reliable observations and metrics for soil structure recovery rates after compaction.

In the April issue of Vadose Zone Journal, researchers describe the objectives, the design, the implementation, and monitoring concept of a long-term field experiment for monitoring post-compaction evolution of , referred to as a observatory.

Initial compaction increased soil bulk density to about 0.5-m depth, decreased fluid transport capability, and increased mechanical impedance. Initial results from the post-compaction monitoring indicate projected rates of years to decades, with different rates for different properties and decreasing recovery rates with soil depth.

Besides enabling quantification of recovery rates of compacted soil and better understanding of the recovery mechanisms, the authors expect that data provided by the soil structure observatory will help improve our general understanding of soil structure dynamics and help define strategies and guidelines for accelerating soil structure recovery, and more generally, improving soil structure in modern agriculture.

Explore further: No ill effects from grazing cattle on crop residues: Nebraska study

More information: Thomas Keller et al, Long-Term Soil Structure Observatory for Monitoring Post-Compaction Evolution of Soil Structure, Vadose Zone Journal (2017). DOI: 10.2136/vzj2016.11.0118

Related Stories

Holistic soil to boost productivity

April 24, 2015

Western Australia has launched Soil Constraints – West, a flagship initiative bringing together research on a range of farming problems that limit agricultural production.

Handheld, mobile data technologies compared for turfgrass

November 28, 2016

Performance testing of natural turfgrass sports fields requires sampling to obtain information on surface properties (e.g., soil moisture, soil compaction, surface hardness, and turfgrass vigor). A study in the September ...

Recommended for you

'Chameleon' ocean bacteria can shift their colors

February 21, 2018

Cyanobacteria - which propel the ocean engine and help sustain marine life - can shift their colour like chameleons to match different coloured light across the world's seas, according to research by an international collaboration ...

New study brings Antarctic ice loss into sharper focus

February 21, 2018

A NASA study based on an innovative technique for crunching torrents of satellite data provides the clearest picture yet of changes in Antarctic ice flow into the ocean. The findings confirm accelerating ice losses from the ...

Stable gas hydrates can trigger landslides

February 21, 2018

Like avalanches onshore,many processes cause submarine landslides. One very widespread assumption is that they are associated with dissociating gas hydrates in the seafloor. However, scientists at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.