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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Effects of compaction on soil hydraulic properties, penetration resistance and water flow patterns at the soil profile scale

Mossadeghi-Bjorklund, Mona; Jarvis, Nicholas; Larsbo, Mats; Forkman, Johannes; Keller, Thomas


The aim of this study was to quantify the effects of compaction on water flow patterns at the soil profile scale. Control and trafficked plots were established in field trials at two sites. The trafficked treatment was created by four passes track-by-track with a three-axle dumper with a maximum wheel load of 5.8 Mg. One year later, dye-tracing experiments were performed and several soil mechanical, physical and hydraulic properties were measured to help explain the dye patterns. Penetration resistance was measured to 50 cm depth, with saturated hydraulic conductivity (K-s), bulk density, and macroporosity and mesoporosity being measured on undisturbed soil cores sampled from three depths (10, 30 and 50 cm). Significant effects of the traffic treatment on the structural pore space were found at 30 cm depth for large mesopores (0.3-0.06 mm diameter), but not small mesopores (0.06-0.03 mm) or macroporosity (pores > 0.3 mm). At one of the sites, ponding was observed during the dye-tracing experiments, especially in the trafficked plots, because of the presence of a compacted layer at plough depth characterized by a larger bulk density and smaller structural porosity and K-s values. Ponding did not induce any preferential transport of the dye solution into the subsoil at this site. In contrast, despite the presence of a compacted layer at 25-30 cm depth, a better developed structural porosity in the subsoil was noted at the other site which allowed preferential flow to reach to at least 1 m depth in both treatments.


dye tracing; macroporosity; penetrometer resistance; saturated hydraulic conductivity; soil compaction

Published in

Soil Use and Management
2019, Volume: 35, number: 3, pages: 367-377
Publisher: WILEY