Design of a New Sensor for Determination of the Effects of Tractor Field Usage in Southern Spain: Soil Sinkage and Alterations in the Cone Index and Dry Bulk Density
Valera, Diego L.
Gil Ribes, Jesús
Agüera Vega, Juan
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Variations in sinkage and cone index are of crucial importance when planning fieldwork, and for determining the trafficability of farm machinery. Many studies have highlighted the link between higher values of these parameters and dramatic decreases in crop yield. Variations in the dry bulk density and cone index of clayey soil in Southern Spain were measured following each of five successive passes over the same land with the three types of tractor most widely used in the area (tracked, two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive). In addition, sinkage (rut depth) of the running gear was measured using a laser microrelief profile meter. This device, which integrates three sensors, was specifically designed for these experiments, as was an electrical penetrometer to determine the cone index, and both instruments proved reliable and accurate in the field. The main goal of this study was to design, manufacture and test these new devices. The first pass caused most soil alteration when compared to successive passes for all types of tractor tested and soil conditions prevailing during the tests. (Heavier) four-wheel drive tractors were found to cause greater soil damage (sinkage, cone index and dry bulk density) than two-wheel drive and track tractors. There was no statistically significant difference between the two latter types. The greatest alterations were recorded in the top 10 cm of the soil. The results show that soil compaction should be avoided as much as possible. This can be achieved by ensuring that tractors always travel along the same tracks, especially in the wet season. At present these aspects are not considered by farmers in this area