Impact of Normal and Shear Stresses Due to Wheel Slip on Hydrological Properties of an Agricultural Clay Loam: Experimental and New Computerized Approach

  •  Andrea Battiato    
  •  Abdallah Alaoui    
  •  Etienne Diserens    


The main purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect that mechanical stresses acting under the slipping driving wheels of agricultural equipment have on the soil’s pore system and water flow process (surface runoff generation during extreme event). The field experiment simulated low slip (1%) and high slip (27%) on a clay loam. The stress on the soil surface and changes in the amounts of water flowing from macropores were simulated using the Tires/tracks And Soil Compaction (TASC) tool and the MACRO model, respectively. Taking a 65 kW tractor on a clay loam as a reference, results showed that an increase in slip of the rear wheels from 1% to 27% caused normal stress to increase from 90.6 kPa to 104.4 kPa at the topsoil level, and the maximum shear contact stress to rise drastically from 6.0 kPa to 61.6 kPa. At 27% slip, topsoil was sheared and displaced over a distance of 0.35 m. Excessive normal and shear stress values with high slip caused severe reductions of the soil’s macroporosity, saturated hydraulic conductivity, and water quantities flowing from topsoil macropores. Assuming that, under conditions of intense rainfall on sloping land, a loss in vertical water flow would mean an increase in surface runoff, we calculated that a rainfall intensity of 100 mm h-1 and a rainfall duration of 1 h would increase the runoff coefficient to 0.79 at low slip and to 1.00 at high slip, indicating that 100% of rainwater would be transformed into surface runoff at high slip. We expect that these effects have a significant impact on soil erosion and floods in steeper terrain (slope > 15°) and across larger surface areas (> 16 m2) than those included in our study.

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