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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Soil mechanical stresses in high wheel load agricultural field traffic: a case study

Mathieu Lamandé A and Per Schjønning A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Aarhus University, Department of Agroecology, Research Centre Foulum, Blichers Allé 20, PO Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark.

B Corresponding author. Email: Per.Schjonning@agro.au.dk

Soil Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/SR17117
Submitted: 25 April 2017  Accepted: 26 July 2017   Published online: 12 September 2017

Abstract

Subsoil compaction is a serious long-term threat to soil functions. Only a few studies have quantified the mechanical stresses reaching deep subsoil layers for modern high wheel load machinery. In the present study we measured the vertical stresses in the tyre–soil contact area and at 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 m depths of a sandy loam soil at field capacity water content. The soil was ploughed annually to a depth of 0.25 m and was tested in the spring following autumn ploughing but before secondary tillage. The machinery tested was a tractor–trailer system for slurry application with a total weight of 52 Mg. Wheel loads ranged from approximately 20 to 70 kN. The tyres were all radial ply with volumes ranging from 0.63 to 1.23 m3. The tyre inflation pressures were generally above those recommended by the manufacturer and ranged from 170 to 280 kPa. The stress distributions in the contact area were highly skewed. Across tyres, the maximum stress in the contact area correlated linearly with, but was much higher than, the mean ground pressure. For each of the three soil depths, the maximum stresses under the tyres were significantly correlated with the wheel load, but not with other loading characteristics. The data predict a 6.6-kPa increase in vertical stress at 0.9 m depth for each 1-Mg addition to the wheel load. The soil stress observations support a simple rule of thumb combining wheel load and inflation pressure in calculation of subsoil vertical stress. We measured vertical stresses up to 300, 100 and 45 kPa at soil depths of 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 m respectively. Comparing these with the data in the literature regarding soil strength and measured compaction effects on the soil studied, we conclude that the traffic event investigated is likely to induce serious effects on soil properties and functions to a depth of at least 0.7 m.

Additional keywords: precompression stress, vertical stress.


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