Risk assessment system for soil compaction

Last changed: 25 January 2022

The project's full title is Implementation of risk assessment systems for soil compaction - users' evaluation of potentials and obstacles. From SLU RådNu, researchers Jenny Höckert and Christina Lundström participate. The project runs from 2020 to 2023 and is funded by Formas.

Ground compaction due to driving with agricultural machinery is one of the biggest threats to soil health. When the soil is packed, the soil pore system is negatively affected: the volume of pores and the continuity of the pores decrease. As a result, soil drainage capacity and gas exchange between the soil and the atmosphere deteriorate, and the mechanical resistance to roots and organisms such as earthworms increases, which in turn negatively affects soil ecosystem services, in particular regulatory services (e.g. flood control, climate control) and production services (e.g. agricultural production).

Land compaction results in significant ecological and economic damage to farmers and the community. Soil compaction is an acute problem in modern agriculture, which is expected to become even more serious due to the heavier and heavier agricultural machinery (especially tractors, combine harvesters and takers, manure spreaders). This results in an increased risk of soil compaction, especially in the soil below the processing depth, which is particularly serious as that is considered almost permanent.

The soil's natural regeneration capacity is very limited there – studies have shown that gasket damage in the soil below processing depth persists for decades. It is therefore important to prevent soil compaction from taking place in the first place.

The main objective of this project is to integrate Terranimo® into the farmer's strategic planning. Terranimo® is a decision support system to prevent soil packing. Terranimo® is designed for use by farmers
advisors and is freely available on www.terranimo.se. Terranimo® is already used by farmers, advisors and machine manufacturers in different countries, mainly in Europe but also in other continents, but there are
potential for extended use. Within the project, we want to improve its use, so that the model becomes a natural ingredient in every farmer's farm management.

The project therefore has an interdisciplinary approach, involving researchers with knowledge in the fields of soil science, agronomy and social sciences, farmers, owners of machine stations, advisors and representatives from authorities. Together, we want to identify the potentials and obstacles to using Terranimo® today, and come up with new solutions and ways to use and integrate Terranimo® into farmers' farm management.

Five countries are participating in this project, from Northern Europe to Southern Europe. In addition to Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland and Italy are included. The fact that these countries from northern to southern Europe are included makes it interesting to compare different
soil and weather conditions and different farm structures, all of which affect the risk of soil compaction. In each country, we choose four or five farms as case studies. The farmers from these farms will actively work with Terranimo®, and together with researchers and others involved stakeholders first identify opportunities for improvement with today's Terranimo® and then develop new ways of using and integrating Terranimo® into daily work, as well as new ways of working to present results from Terranimo®.

One way could be, for example, to produce maps of the landpacking risk for an entire farm, and such a map could be updated on an ongoing basis using information on soil humidity obtained from sensors in the ground.

The project will lead to an improved use of Terranimo® – preventing land compaction from being part of farm management. Improved integration of Terranimo® and improved ways of using Terranimo® means that Terranimo® will be able to support improving the planning of in-field runs (including the hiring of machinery from machine stations) and enabling strategic planning of investments in new machines.

Improved awareness of soil packing due to Terranimo® will also result in better adaptation of crop rotations and agricultural machinery to site-specific conditions and may affect the development of machinery for to reduce their negative impact on our non-renewable land resource.