Original scientific paper
Effects of soil moisture content and tractor wheeling intensity on traffic-induced soil compaction
2015, 16 (4) p. 489-502
Soil compaction causes deleterious effects on physical and mechanical proprieties of agricultural soils. In order to investigate the effect of soil moisture content and tractor wheeling intensity on traffic-induced soil compaction, this study was carried out on a field with clay loam soil. Soil dry bulk density and hydraulic conductivity as well as emergence percentage of corn seedlings and dry mass of the sampled mature plants were considered the dependent variables of the experiment. Independent variables consisted of soil moisture content with five levels (12, 15, 17, 19, and 21%), traffic intensity with three levels (four, two, and zero passes of tractor wheel (tractor model: John Deere 3350) from the entire area of the plot), and soil sampling depth with three levels (0-10, 10-20, and 20-30 cm). According to the results of this study, gradual increase in soil water content generally resulted in an increase in soil bulk density; moreover, increasing the tractor wheeling intensity from 0 to 4 passes increased bulk density by 13%. Furthermore, the driest soil water content had the highest and the wettest soil water content had the lowest emergence percentage of corn seedlings among the treatments; moreover, traffic intensity treatment inversely affected the emergence percentage of corn seedlings and the dry mass of mature plants. To sum up, these results indicate that, for improving water permeability and reducing dry bulk density of the examined clay loam soil, as well as better emergence of corn seedlings and ultimately increasing crop yield, it is recommended to avoid wheeling when soil moisture content is high, reduce the number of machinery wheel passes from the farm as low as possible, and restrict the wheel passes to fixed strips along the field, whenever possible.