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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Hall, Eric
item Raper, Randy

Submitted to: Transactions of the ASAE
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/31/2005
Publication Date: 4/15/2005
Citation: Hall, E., Raper, R.L. 2005. Development and concept evaluation of an on-the-go soil strength measurement system. Transactions of the ASAE. 48(2):469-477.

Interpretive Summary: Developing new measurement technologies for on-the-go sensing of soil compaction will open up new opportunities for producers to eliminate compacted soil layers which severely impede root growth. A new patented technology for on-the-go sensing of soil compaction was tested in the soil bins of the USDA-ARS-National Soil Dynamics Laboratory. Results indicated that this sensor and its associated method were able to detect the depth of soil compaction. The on-the-go soil strength measurement system could even be more accurate and versatile in measuring various levels of compaction than the traditional method, which is a soil cone penetrometer. Further field research using this technology could enable on-the-go sensing of soil compaction and lead to management systems where tillage depth is adjusted with the changing depth of compaction.

Technical Abstract: Root-restricting soil layers reduce crop yields in the southeastern United States almost every year due to temporary periods of drought. Subsoiling beneath these layers is an annual practice for most farmers in this region as a method of removing this barrier and improving rooting conditions. Currently, farmers could use a soil cone penetrometer to determine the depth of their root-restrictive layer in a few locations within a field and then set their tillage depth to exceed the deepest root-restricting layer found. However, the potential for significant energy savings exists if some method of sensing the depth of this layer was available on-the-go and adjustments could in turn be made to subsoiling depth. A prototype design of an on-the-go soil strength sensor was developed as a possible alternative to the cone penetrometer and as a method of sensing the depth of the root-impeding layer. Several versions of this sensor were evaluated in a sandy loam soil bin at the USDA-ARS National Soil Dynamics Laboratory. The sensor was able to detect compacted soil profiles in a similar fashion as the cone penetrometer. The on-the-go soil strength measurements were more closely correlated to bulk density than the cone penetrometer measurements and exhibited less variation than cone penetrometer measurements. Further research with this sensor could lead to methods of quickly and easily mapping soil compaction within fields.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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