Soil compaction impact and modelling. A review
Compaction of agricultural soils is a concern for many agricultural soil scientists and farmers since soil compaction, due to heavy field traffic, has resulted in yield reduction of most agronomic crops throughout the world. Soil compaction is a physical form of soil degradation that alters soil structure, limits water and air infiltration, and reduces root penetration in the soil. Consequences of soil compaction are still underestimated. A complete understanding of processes involved in soil compaction is necessary to meet the future global challenge of food security. We review here the advances in understanding, quantification, and prediction of the effects of soil compaction. We found the following major points: (1) When a soil is exposed to a vehicular traffic load, soil water contents, soil texture and structure, and soil organic matter are the three main factors which determine the degree of compactness in that soil. (2) Soil compaction has direct effects on soil physical properties such as bulk density, strength, and porosity; therefore, these parameters can be used to quantify the soil compactness. (3) Modified soil physical properties due to soil compaction can alter elements mobility and change nitrogen and carbon cycles in favour of more emissions of greenhouse gases under wet conditions. (4) Severe soil compaction induces root deformation, stunted shoot growth, late germination, low germination rate, and high mortality rate. (5) Soil compaction decreases soil biodiversity by decreasing microbial biomass, enzymatic activity, soil fauna, and ground flora. (6) Boussinesq equations and finite element method models, that predict the effects of the soil compaction, are restricted to elastic domain and do not consider existence of preferential paths of stress propagation and localization of deformation in compacted soils. (7) Recent advances in physics of granular media and soil mechanics relevant to soil compaction should be used to progress in modelling soil compaction.