Soil Susceptibility to Compaction

Soil susceptibility to compaction is the probability that soil becomes compacted when exposed to compaction risk. It can be low, medium, high and very high depending on soil properties and a set of external factors like climate, soil use, etc.

The prevention of soil compaction is linked to the evaluation of soil susceptibility to compaction. Soil susceptibility to compaction can also be divided, similarly to compaction, into two main parts: natural and man induced susceptibility. It is important to know which soil is susceptible to compaction in order to be able to apply proper soil use and cultivation, to prevent real compaction.

Reasons for natural soil susceptibility to compaction

The reasons for natural soil susceptibility to compaction are resulting from the soil properties and the typical climate of the evaluated area

  • Soil texture and physical properties: Soil susceptibility to compaction is influenced predominantly by its texture, mainly by the clay fraction (size less than 0.002 mm). The higher the clay fraction, the more susceptible the soil to compaction. Soil texture influences consecutively the other soil properties. Susceptibility to compaction goes in the direction sandy - loamy sandy - sand loamy - loamy -clay loamy - loam clayey - clayey soils - clays
  • Soil water regime and ground water presence: The soil water regime influences the soil susceptibility to compaction and is vice versa influenced by compaction. The soil water regime summarizes the movement of water through the soil profile in time and space. The direction of the water movement in the soil is defined by the soil moisture potential.
  • Chemical properties: From the chemical soil properties, the most important in relation to compaction is the excess of salts in the soil profile which decreases the stability of the soil structure. pH is also an important factor. A low pH is unfavourable for soil aggregate stability, thus low pH soils are more susceptible to compaction.
  • Biological properties: Soil biota, both micro and macro-organisms are influenced by the change of soil properties due to compaction. Soil properties, which change can influence soil biota, are: temperature, water and air regime, amount and redistribution of available nutrients (occurrence mainly in upper parts of topsoil, the rest of soil profile without nutrients, water and air), pH and Eh, soil density (earthworms)
  • Arrangement and kind of soil horizon: High water content and unstable structure create compaction conditions. The accumulation of salts is connected with the low stability of soil aggregates. Leaching processes, like podsolisation and illimerisation, and clay movement decrease the soil structure stability and influence water movement in a soil profile.

Reasons for man induced and combined susceptibility to soil compaction

Man induced or secondary soil susceptibility to compaction is created in the case where possible soil compaction is not the desired result of human activities but the the result of improper soil utilization especially in agricultural and forest practices

  • Forest soils, especially during works with wood, like skidding after cutting down the trees, are exposed to crossings by heavy machinery in any type of weather and under any soil moisture content condition.
  • In the case of agricultural soils, the creating of narrow ditches and ploughing of soil can especially create soil compaction. In all of these cases the soil balance with the surrounding environment is broken and usually there is not enough time to come into the same balance again.
  • Treatment of soils in building areas leads to significant changes of the natural properties of soil; very often such changes leading to soil compaction are done on purpose and compaction is the aim of such works
  • Ploughing of soil to the same depth for several years accelerates plough pan genesis even if done in proper soil moisture content.
  • For human induced soil compaction, the compacted layer in the depth of 0.1 - 0.25 m (plough pan) is typical. Deeper soil compaction is typical for naturally induced process.

Methodology

The Developmenbt of the soil's natural susceptibility map is based on the creation of logical connections between relevant parameters, called pedotransfer rules. The input parameters for these pedotransfer rules are taken from the attributes of the European Soil Database .

The process of map construction was divided into three steps:

  • STEP 1: selection of relevant parameters from European Soil Database (SGDB)
  • STEP 2: evaluation of selected parameters.
  • STEP 3: creation of Pedotransfer rules.
STEP 1: selection of relevant parameters from European Soil Database

Soil type, texture and water regime are the most important parameters from the SGDB used in the process of natural soil susceptibility to compaction

  • AGLIM1: The most important limitation to agricultural use of the STU
  • AGLIM2: Secondary limitation to agricultural use of the STU
  • WRB-ADJ1: First soil adjective code of the STU from the World Reference Base (1998)
  • WRB-FULL: Full soil code of the STU from the World Reference Base (1998)
  • TEXT-SRF-DOM: Dominant surface textural class of the STU
  • TEXT-SRF-SEC: Secondary surface textural class of the STU
  • TEXT-SUB-DOM: Dominant subsurface textural class of the STU
  • TEXT-SUB-SEC: Secondary subsurface textural class of the STU
  • TEXT-DEP_CHG: Depth class to a textural change of the dominant and/or secondary STU
  • WR: Dominant annual average soil water regime class of the soil profile of the STU

Additional to the main parameters, also "auxiliary" parameters have been used for the purpose of making the evaluation more accurate in questionable cases.

  • IL: The presence of an impermeable layer within the soil profile of the STU
  • ROO: Depth class of an obstacle to roots within the STU
  • WM1: Normal presence and purpose of an existing water management system
  • USE-DOM: Dominant land use of the STU
  • USE-SEC: Secondary land use of the STU
STEP 2: evaluation of selected parameters

The evaluation of selected parameters was done according to the expert knowledge of their properties and influence on soil susceptibility to compaction. Susceptibility of single parameters was divided into three categories:

  • L - low
  • M - medium
  • H - high
STEP 3: creation of Pedotransfer rules

Selected parameters of the ESDB have been evaluated according to this basic premise and natural soil susceptibility to compaction was set up for the purpose of map construction. The greatest simplification was in two marginal situations:

  • 1. If all selected parameters show high susceptibility to compaction, than the soil has a very high final susceptibility to compaction;
  • 2. If all selected parameters show low susceptibility to compaction, than the soil has a low final susceptibility to compaction.

For case 1, in the final evaluation, parameters with high susceptibility have been evaluated with higher value as it was in case 2 in which there are parameters with low susceptibility. The reason for this is the assumption that if soil has all the properties relevant for susceptibility to compaction in bad status (high susceptibility), its final susceptibility is very high. On the contrary, if soil has all relevant properties in good status (low susceptibility), this will not influence final susceptibility, which is already low, because every soil as porous medium has some susceptibility to compaction, so always the susceptibility is present.

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Title: Natural susceptibility to soil compaction in Europe
Resource Type: Datasets, Soil Threats Data, Maps & Documents, Maps, Soil Data Maps
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Registration requested: Request Form
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Author: Beata Houšková
Year: 2008
Language: en
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Displaying 1 - 1 of 1 |

Title: Natural susceptibility to soil compaction in Europe
Resource Type: Datasets, Soil Threats Data, Maps & Documents, Maps, Soil Data Maps
Theme/Sub-Theme:
Network/Cooperations:
Project/s:
Registration requested: Request Form
Continent:
Author: Beata Houšková
Year: 2008
Language: en
Scale:
Keywords: