The effect of agricultural traffic and tillage on soil physical properties and crop yields

Smith, E. (2017) The effect of agricultural traffic and tillage on soil physical properties and crop yields. Doctoral thesis, Harper Adams University.

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The future productivity of global soils is directly threatened by soil compaction. Conventional agricultural production systems can expose up to 86% of a field to traffic-induced soil compaction, which can be minimised using low ground pressure technologies, including tracks and tyres, and traffic management systems, namely controlled traffic farming. A reduction in both traffic and tillage intensity, using shallow and zero tillage systems , not only reduces the amount of in - field traffic, and thus the cost of crop establishment , but has been shown to have a positive impact on soil properties and crop yields. The influence of traffic and tillage on soil properties has been studied worldwide, although there is a lack of replicated field study data. An experiment, therefore, was carried out at Harper Adams University, UK to determine the effect of three traffic systems being random traffic farming at standard and low tyre inflation pressures , and controlled traffic farming, with three tillage systems being deep, shallow and zero tillage on soil physical properties and winter wheat ( Triticum aestivum ) and winter barley ( Hordeum vulgare ) yields . Soil compaction was removed , and the site was assessed for uniformity prior to the design and application of treatments. Traffic treatments were evaluated prior to their use in the field experiment. A reduction in tyre inflation pressure reduced soil pressure and soil bulk density. Under tyres at low inflation pressure, penetration resistance and yield ranged between - 7% to 13% and - 2% to 4% respectively compared to standard inflation pressure . The use of low ground pressure specific tyres and tracks increased soil compaction. Tracks reduced winter barley yields by 30% compared to tyres . The removal of traffic , using a controlled traffic farming system, reduced soil bulk density and penetration resistance by 15% and 27% and increased yields between 28% to 46% compared to random traffic farming. A reduction in tillage intensity, using zero tillage, increased soil bulk density and penetration resistance, and resulted in yield differences between - 9% to 1% compared to deep tillage. This research, conducted on a uniform field site, indicates that soil compaction should be minimised in commercial agricultural operations by reducing tyre inflation pressures of standard agricultural tyres, or using controlled traffic farming, in combination with reduced tillage systems.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions: Crop and Environment Sciences (to 31.07.20)
Depositing User: Ms Kath Osborn
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2018 17:57
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2018 18:27

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