Controlled traffic farming restores soil structure

McHugh, A. D. and Tullberg, J. N. and Freebairn, D. M. (2009) Controlled traffic farming restores soil structure. Soil and Tillage Research, 104 (1). pp. 164-172. ISSN 0167-1987


Soil structural degradation is widespread in cropping lands and efforts to restore deteriorated soil structure very often fail, largely as a result of unchanged tillage and traffic practises. Significant reductions in biological activity in the soil environment occur where random traffic is practiced, limiting the regenerative capacity of soils. This study assessed the changes in soil structure after random field wheeling was replaced with controlled traffic through four cropping seasons. The rate and depth of soil amelioration by natural processes was assessed by changes in, soil water retention characteristics, macroporosity and bulk density. Soil moisture characteristics indicated that the available water capacity (AWC) was 10.2 mm per 100 mm depth of soil before restoration. Amelioration of the soil matrix increased AWC to 15.4 mm per 100 mm depth of soil. Macropore density improved from very marginal conditions by 50% at 100 mm and 27% at 300 mm depths. Bulk density prior to restoration was ∼1.40 g cm-3, which was typical for a degraded vertosol, however values improved significantly to 1.25 g cm-3 at 100 mm depths, with deeper zones improving to 1.30 g cm-3. Zero till, controlled traffic, permanent bed farming offers opportunities for restoration of physically degraded vertosols and therefore, for improving the productivity and sustainability of mechanised farming.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2008 Elsevier B.V. Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher copyright policy.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Agricultural, Civil and Environmental Engineering (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Agricultural, Civil and Environmental Engineering (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2014 00:09
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2014 03:10
Uncontrolled Keywords: amelioration; available water capacity; bulk density; compaction; controlled traffic; permanent beds; zero tillage; macropore density; Vertosol
Fields of Research (2008): 04 Earth Sciences > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040607 Surface Processes
05 Environmental Sciences > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050302 Land Capability and Soil Degradation
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070101 Agricultural Land Management
Fields of Research (2020): 37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3709 Physical geography and environmental geoscience > 370901 Geomorphology and earth surface processes
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4106 Soil sciences > 410601 Land capability and soil productivity
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3002 Agriculture, land and farm management > 300202 Agricultural land management
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970107 Expanding Knowledge in the Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
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