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Compaction of agricultural and forest subsoils by tracked heavy construction machinery


Precompression stress has been proposed as a criterion for subsoil compression sensitivity in regulations, limiting mechanical loads by vehicles, trafficking on agricultural and forest soils. In this study we investigated the applicability of this criterion to the field situation in the case of tracked heavy construction machinery. ‘Wet’ and ‘dry’ test plots at three different test sites (soil types: Eutric Cambisol and Haplic Luvisol under crop rotation and Dystric Cambisol under forest) along an overland gas pipeline construction site were experimentally trafficked with heavy tracked machines used for the constructionwork. The comparison of samples taken from beneath the tracks with samples taken from non-trafficked areas beside the tracks showed that no significant increase in precompression stress occurred in the subsoil. Comparing calculated mean and peak vertical stresses with precompression stress in the subsoil, only little compaction effects could have been expected. Precompression stress was determined by the Casagrande procedure from confined uniaxial compression tests carried out in the laboratory on undisturbed samples at -6 kPa initial soil water potential. Dye tracer experiments showed little differences between flow pattern of trafficked and non-trafficked subsoils, in agreement with the results of the precompression stress, bulk density and macroporosity measurements. The results indicate that Casagrande precompression stress may be a suitable criterion to define the maximum allowable peak stresses in the contact area of a rigid track in order to protect agricultural and forest subsoils against compaction.


Berli, M. and Kulli, B. and Attinger, W. and Keller, M. and Leuenberger, J. and Flühler, H. and Springman, Sarah M. and Curtis, Jason

Index Terms:

Soil; SoilGroup; subsoils; Construction machinery; Traffic experiment; Attinger, W.; Berli, M.; Fluhler, H.; Keller, M.; Kulli, B.; Leuenberger, J.; Schulin, R.; Springman, Sarah


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Date published: 2004