Monitoring soil structure changes after compaction

June 19, 2017
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

New Amazon threat? Deforestation from mining

October 18, 2017

Sprawling mining operations in Brazil are destroying much more of the iconic Amazon forest than previously thought, says the first comprehensive study of mining deforestation in the world's largest tropical rainforest.

Scientists determine source of world's largest mud eruption

October 17, 2017

On May 29, 2006, mud started erupting from several sites on the Indonesian island of Java. Boiling mud, water, rocks and gas poured from newly-created vents in the ground, burying entire towns and compelling many Indonesians ...

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.