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Research article2013Peer reviewed

Persistent subsoil compaction and its effects on preferential flow patterns in a loamy till soil

Etana, Ararso; Larsbo, Mats; Keller, Thomas; Arvidsson, Johan; Schjønning, Per; Forkman, Johannes; Jarvis, Nicholas


Persistence of subsoil compaction was investigated in a field experiment in southern Sweden. The investigation compared two treatments (control and compaction by four passes track-by-track), 14 years after the experimental traffic. The compaction experiment was carried out in 1995 with a 6-row sugar beet harvester with a wheel load of c. 10.4 Mg. Investigations included penetration resistance, bulk density, water retention, saturated hydraulic conductivity, in situ near-saturated hydraulic conductivity, and dye tracing experiments. The measurements of penetration resistance and bulk density clearly showed the persistence of subsoil compaction. In addition, both macroporosity and saturated and near-saturated hydraulic conductivity were smaller in the compacted plots, although these differences were not statistically significant. Dye tracing allowed us to visualize flow patterns in the soil and to quantitatively distinguish compacted and non-compacted subsoil profiles. Despite significant soil textural heterogeneity across the experimental field, the dye tracing data showed that persistent compaction may enhance preferential flow. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Dye coverage; Dye tracing; Flowpath width; Hydraulic conductivity; Metric entropy; Soil compaction

Published in

2013, Volume: 192, pages: 430-436