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J Environ Manage. 2007 Feb;82(3):388-97. Epub 2006 Nov 28.

Soil compaction--indicators for the assessment of harmful changes to the soil in the context of the German Federal Soil Protection Act.

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Consultant and Soil Scientist, Gutenbergstr. 26, 24118 Kiel, Germany.


Soil compaction in agriculture induced by large-scale equipment is of growing concern. Heavy wheel loads used in arable cropping have the potential to cause irreversible damage to the subsoil structure and may lead to harmful soil compaction. In order to sustain or improve soil health or fitness on a sustainable basis, indicators are needed to assess the changes in the soil structure and the respective soil functions. This requires an adequate verification of methods for distinguishing between the impairment of soil structure and the disruption of soil functions, and for the respective subject of protection. In this article the link between existing models of soil physical prognosis, practical guidelines, and criteria for the identification of affected soil structure is demonstrated, and a viable concept to distinguish harmful changes to the soil is presented. The concept consists of methods for soil physical analysis such as "pre-compression stress" and "loading ratio", practical recommendations for best management practice, and an indicator-based model for the identification of harmful subsoil compaction derived from a research project for the German Federal Environmental Agency, making it possible to determine for a respective location the required level of action far beyond the common practice of precautions against harmful soil compaction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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