Agricultural soils are exposed to serious mechanical stresses due to heavy farm machinery traffic. This impact can lead to a deformation of the soil structure, often with a reduction of porosity, i.e. compaction. Soil compaction can reduce the yield for farmers and affects important soil parameters resulting in adverse consequences for the environment. Soil compaction below the tillage depth has been shown to be essentially permanent because it not is alleviated through natural processes. To avoid soil compaction, we need to understand the processes that lead to it.
Our research area aims at a better understanding of the mechanical behaviour of agricultural soils. This includes experimental and theoretical investigations concerning the stress propagation mode in naturally structured arable soils.
It further involves the stress-strain relationships in situ and in the lab (compression, shearing, breaking), the definition and characterization of soil mechanical strength, and the consequences of soil deformation on soil functions in the short and long term (mainly water and gas transfer).
A key area of interest is to understand the impacts of soil compaction on soil functions. Ongoing projects enhance this understanding through investigation of the consequences of soil deformation on selected soil functions. Key collaborative partners in this work include colleagues at Aarhus University, ART (Switzerland) and INRA Montpellier (France).