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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Impacts of wood extraction on soil: assessing rutting and soil compaction caused by skidding and forwarding by means of traditional and innovative methods

Marra, Elena; Laschi, Andrea; Fabiano, Fabio; Foderi, Cristiano; Neri, Francesco; Mastrolonardo, Giovanni; Nordfjell, Tomas; Marchi, Enrico


Intensive forestry operations may cause soil compaction, plastic soil disturbances and rutting, which are responsible for undesirable effects on soils, vegetation and water bodies. Despite the numerous studies aimed to identify the main factors affecting soil damages, it still remains unclear whether wood extraction methods and driving direction (uphill or downhill) may affect the impacts of forest machines. This research analyses soil compaction and soil penetration resistance as well as rutting from forwarding and skidding using the same farm tractor in up- and downhill wood extraction. Rutting was estimated by 3D soil reconstruction derived by portable laser scanning (PLS) and close-range photogrammetry using structure for motion (SfM). Our findings showed that the direction of extraction did not affect soil damage severity during forwarding on a 25% slope. On the contrary, in order to reduce soil compaction, downhill skidding is preferable to uphill skidding. The results showed that the pressure on the ground caused by vehicles can be distributed horizontally, thus affecting also the soil between the wheel tracks. The soil bulk density inside the tracks after 10 forwarding passes increased by 40% and with 23% between the wheel tracks. The soil displacement in skidding trails (7.36 m(3) per 100 m of trail) was significantly higher than in forwarding (1.68 m(3) per 100 m of trail). The rutting estimation showed no significant difference between the PLS and SfM methods, even comparing the two digital surface models (DSMs) obtained, even if photogrammetry was preferred for technical and practical reasons.


Portable laser scanner; Digital elevation model; Soil disturbance

Published in

European Journal of Forest Research
2022, Volume: 141, number: 1, pages: 71-86 Publisher: SPRINGER