What is soil compaction in agriculture

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Full
Answer

How and why to avoid soil compaction?

To avoid soil compaction, it is important to employ remedial measures that can contribute to better soil structure in the long term. Such measures include drainage, structure liming, keeping the soil covered with vegetation and supplying external organic material. These measures, which result in the soil being drier, decrease soil compaction at …

What is soil compaction, where does it occur?

The Causes of Soil Shrinkage, Compaction, and Settling

  • Dry Soil Causes Soil Shrinkage. Soil shrinkage is defined as the change in soil volume relative to its moisture content. …
  • Heavy Weights Cause Compaction. All soil must be compacted before any concrete is poured over it. …
  • Shrinking and Compaction Cause Settling. As the soil dries up and shrinks, so does the volume and surface of the soil. …

How can we prevent soil compaction?

When preparing the soil for planting we need to have a clear goal in mind when it comes to compaction:

  • We should aim to limit its occurrence;
  • We must try to alleviate compaction which has already occurred; and
  • Ultimately we should strive to prevent compaction as best as we can.

What is the purpose of compacting soil?

  • An increase in strength of soils
  • A decrease in compressibility of soils
  • A decrease in permeability of soils
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What is meant by soil compaction?

Soil compaction occurs when soil particles are pressed together, reducing pore space between them (Figure 1). Heavily compacted soils contain few large pores, less total pore volume and, consequently, a greater density. A compacted soil has a reduced rate of both water infiltration and drainage.


What is the purpose of soil compaction?

Soil compaction is necessary to increase the bearing capacity and stiffness of in-situ (natural state) or chemically modified soils. Compaction increases the shear strength of soils by adding friction from the interlocking of particles.


What is soil compaction and why is it bad?

Soil compaction is the reduction of soil volume due to external factors; this reduction lowers soil productivity and environmental quality.


What are the effects of soil compaction?

Soil compaction can be a serious form of soil degradation resulting in decreased crop production and increased risk of soil erosion. Soil compaction can reduce water infiltration into soil, crop emergence, root penetration, crop nutrient uptake and water uptake — all of which can reduce crop yields.


What is compaction?

Compaction is the process of increasing the density of soil by mechanical means. It results in the rearrangement of soil particles and the reduction of voids. Soils that are highly compacted contain very few voids resulting in soil having a higher unit weight.


What is compaction process?

The compacting process is the compressing of fine-sized powders between a roll compactor. The compacted material is then typically reduced in size and screened to specification. The compacting process includes these steps.


What are the advantages of soil compaction?

Compaction of the soil and removing air voids generally increases the soil’s sheer strength, decreases its compressibility, and decreases its permeability. It will reduce the voids ratio making it more difficult for water to flow through soil.


What is soil compaction PDF?

Soil compaction is defined as the method of mechanically increasing the density of soil. In construction, this is a significant part of the building process. If performed improperly, settlement of the soil could occur and result in unnecessary maintenance costs or structure failure.


What are examples of compaction?

An example of compaction is the compression of sediments in bodies of water over long periods of time that form sedimentary rocks. Another example is the compaction of ancient plants that leads to the formation of coal.


How can we prevent soil compaction?

5 Ways to Prevent Soil Compaction From Happening In Your GardenDon’t stand or walk in your garden beds. … Install garden paths and/or stepping stones. … Make the width of your garden beds no wider than twice your arm length. … Use raised beds or fencing if/when necessary. … Feed your soil, don’t till it.


How can soil compaction be improved?

The very best way to improve soil compaction is to make sure it doesn’t happen in the first place. Avoid tilling your soil when it is too wet or too dry. Also, don’t till your soil more than once a year and, if you can, avoid tilling your soil at all. Keep foot and vehicle traffic to a minimum.


What is the effect of compaction?

Compaction reduces the voids present in the soil hence permeability also reduces. At a particular density, for the same soil sample, permeability is more for soils which are compacted to dry of optimum than those compacted to wet of optimum.


What is soil compaction?

Soil compaction, also known as soil structure degradation, is the increase of bulk density or decrease in porosity of soil due to externally or internally applied loads. Compaction can adversely affect nearly all physical, chemical and biological properties and functions of soil. Together with soil erosion, it is regarded as …


How does soil compaction affect plants?

Major effects on soil properties due to soil compaction are reduced air permeability and reduced water infiltration. Main physical negative effects to plants are restricted plant root growth in response to the accumulation of the plant hormone ethylene and accessibility of nutrients due to increase in bulk density and reduced soil pore size. This may lead to an extremely dry topsoil and eventually causes soil to crack because the roots absorb water requiring for transpiration from the upper part of the soil where plants can penetrate with their restricted root depth.


What is soil used for?

Soil is a storage of greenhouse gases (GHG). It is seen as a major terrestrial pool of carbon. Providing nutrient cycling and filtering services, soil regulates GHG fluxes. The loss of gases from soil to the atmosphere is often enhanced by the influence of soil compaction on permeability and changes in crop growth.


Why is soil compaction a problem in tillage?

While the major cause of soil compaction in a tillage activity nowadays is due to machineries, the influence of compaction resulting from lighter equipments and animals to the topsoil should not be neglected. Moreover, inappropriate choices of tillage systems may cause unnecessary soil compaction.


Why is soil water content important?

Soil water content, a high water content increases susceptibility to compaction as the layer of water on the surface of soil particles shields interactions between soil particles. Initial bulk density, dense soils are more resistant to compaction as the number of particle interactions is higher.


What are the factors that affect soil compaction?

Susceptibility of soil to compaction depends on several factors, which influence soil particle interactions: 1 Soil texture, with fine textured soils (high clay content) being more susceptible to compaction than coarse textured soils. 2 Soil structure, with angular, heterogeneous structures being more stable. 3 Soil water content, a high water content increases susceptibility to compaction as the layer of water on the surface of soil particles shields interactions between soil particles 4 Initial bulk density, dense soils are more resistant to compaction as the number of particle interactions is higher. 5 Organic matter content, increases resistance to compaction as organic matter acts as a buffer, binding minerals and water 6 pH, affects net charges of molecules


What are the indicators of soil compaction?

Phenomena like waterlogging on the surface or in subsurface layers, visible reduction in porosity and changes of soil structure, soil moisture and soil colour are indicators of soil compaction in the field. A blue-grey soil colour and a smell of hydrogen sulphide can occur in the top soil due to extenuated aeration .


What is soil compaction?

Soil compaction is one of the most serious forms of soil degradation caused by agricultural production. However, unlike other forms of soil degradation, such as erosion or salinization, compaction is often difficult to detect and measure and can limit crop growth and yield without presenting any obvious symptoms.


How does soil compaction affect crop production?

The primary negative effect of soil compaction on crop production is a reduction in the ability of soil to supply water and nutrients to the crop. Compaction near the soil surface can significantly reduce yield under certain conditions but is generally more manageable and does not persist in the soil for very long.


How does topsoil compaction affect crops?

Topsoil compaction occurs from the soil surface down through the normal tillage zone. This type of compaction is typically caused by wheel traffic or animal traffic. Effects of topsoil compaction on crops can vary depending on weather conditions and are generally worse in wet growing seasons. Topsoil compaction is usually temporary and can be partially remediated by normal tillage. Natural processes such as freeze-thaw cycles, wet-dry cycles, microbial activity and plant root growth will also tend to alleviate topsoil compaction over time and rebuild soil structure.


What is the most important factor in soil compaction?

Soil moisture is the most important factor influencing the risk of soil compaction (Soane and Van Ouwerkerk, 1994). Drier soils can sustain heavier loads without becoming compacted. Soils with moisture levels at or above field capacity have the greatest potential for compaction. Water acts as a lubricant between soil particles that allows soil to be pushed together. As more air space is replaced with water, the potential for compaction increases, up to a maximum point referred to as the “plastic limit.” At soil saturation levels above this point, the compactive potential of the topsoil declines since water cannot be compressed. However, this results in the compactive force being directly transferred to the subsoil, increasing the risk of subsoil compaction (Duiker, 2004). Additionally, trafficking very wet soils often results in extensive smearing of the topsoil, which reduces hydraulic conductivity and may be even more detrimental to crop root growth than compaction (Raper and Kirby, 2006).


What causes poor soil structure?

Compaction from heavy loads applied to the soil can be both a cause and consequence of poor soil structure. Compaction can cause granular structure in the topsoil to break down and reform as blocky or platy structure.


What causes compaction in the field?

From a management perspective, however; the most serious form of compaction is that caused by wheel loads from machinery operating in the field. Compaction caused by heavy axle loads can extend from the soil surface down into the subsoil where it can persist for years and is difficult or impossible to remediate.


What are the factors that influence the formation of aggregates in soil?

Natural processes in the soil, including wetting and drying, freezing and thawing, and bacterial, fungal, and root growth result in the formation of aggregates.


How does compaction work?

Compaction by wetting and drying. As soils absorb water and they drain and have water extracted from them, the forces developed between soil particles in the menisci (skins) which separate water from air can be large enough to draw soil particles together.


Why is soil more resistant to compaction?

On the other hand, dry soils resist compaction because of their interparticle forces, including water films, internal friction, fibres of organic matter and bonding with temporary cements.


How long does it take for soil macropores to increase?

The avoidance of heavy wheelings enabled soil macropores (cracks and tunnels from soil animals and roots) to increase within six years, allowing better infiltration of water into the soil (Ellis et al. 1992).


What is the change in soil volume?

Compaction is the change of a soil volume by compression and shear forces to increase bulk density and decrease porosity – the air is squeezed out of larger soil pores. Shear forces are caused by the traction forces of wheels, hooves and tracks and mainly confined to the surface soil.


What is the role of macrofauna in soil?

They play a role in transmitting air and water through the soil. Macropores include shrinkage cracks, burrows made by soil macrofauna (worms, ants and termites) and old root channels. Mesopores are small enough to retain water against the pull of gravity at field capacity, to be available to plants.


How do roots help soil?

Crops with a deep, vigorous root system help raise soil organic matter levels and soil life at depth. The physical action of the roots and soil fauna and the glues they produce, promote soil structure, porosity, water storage, soil aeration and drainage at depth.


How does deep rooting affect crop yield?

Conversely, soils with restricted rooting limit plant uptake of water and nutrients, reduce fertiliser efficiency, increase leaching and can decrease crop yield.

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Overview

Soil compaction, also known as soil structure degradation, is the increase of bulk density or decrease in porosity of soil due to externally or internally applied loads. Compaction can adversely affect nearly all physical, chemical and biological properties and functions of soil. Together with soil erosion, it is regarded as the “costliest and most serious environmental problem caused by conventional …


History and current state

Soil compaction is not a recent issue. Before the beginning of mechanized agriculture, the usage of plough-pans was associated with soil compaction. However, multiple studies have shown that modern farming techniques increase the risk of harmful soil compaction.
The historic data basis for global soil compaction is generally very weak as there are only measurements or estimates for certain regions/countries at certain points in time. In 1991, it wa…


Mechanism

In healthy, well-structured soils, particles interact with each other forming soil aggregates. The resulting soil structure increases in stability with the number of interactions between soil particles. Water and air fills the voids between soil particles, where water interacts with soil particles forming a thin layer around them. This layer can shield particle-particle interaction thus reducing the stability of soil structure.


Causes

Soil compaction can occur naturally by the drying and wetting process called soil consolidation, or when external pressure is applied to the soil. The most relevant human-induced causes of soil compaction in agriculture are the use of heavy machineries, tillage practice itself, inappropriate choice of tillage systems, as well as livestock trampling.
Use of large and heavy machineries for agriculture often causes not only topsoil but subsoil com…


Effects

Major effects on soil properties due to soil compaction are reduced air permeability and reduced water infiltration. Main physical negative effects to plants are restricted plant root growth in response to the accumulation of the plant hormone ethylene and accessibility of nutrients due to increase in bulk density and reduced soil pore size. This may lead to an extremely dry topsoil and eventually causes soil to crack because the roots absorb water requiring for transpiration from t…


Identification methods

Soil compaction can be identified either in the field, the laboratory or via remote sensing. In order to get reliable data and results a combination of different methods is necessary as “there is no single universal method available to identify compact soils”.
In the field
Phenomena like waterlogging on the surface or in subsurface layers, visible reduction in porosit…


Avoidance and mitigation

It takes several decades for a partial restoration of compacted soil and therefore it is extremely important to take active measures in order to regenerate soil functions. Since soil compaction is very hard to identify and reverse, special attention has to be paid on avoidance and alleviation.
The United Nations General Assembly has agreed to jointly combat land degradation. In particular, member states committed themselves to “use and disseminate modern technology for data coll…


See also

• Land use, land-use change, and forestry

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