Compaction of soil is human induced due to machinery use, and negatively affects a range of vital soil ecological services and functions. It increases the mechanical resistance to root growth and reduces soil aeration, thus decreasing soil productivity. It reduces soil hydraulic conductivity and thus increases surface run-off that may induce erosion. The mechanical strength of heterogeneous and biologically affected soil material is a matter of great complexity. Recent achievements have increased our ability to estimate soil strength and to relate it to stresses exerted by machinery.

The below video (English spoken) shows an experiment where pressures in the soil induced by wheels and tracks are compared. The video gives a good insight in the problem of soil compaction.

The video is also available in Dutch spoken and German spoken versions.

 

A link to the video recording of Per Schjonning (Aarhus University, Denmark) explaining soil compaction can be viewed here.