Modelling Soil Physical Properties for Environmental Protection
*Ajayi, Ayodele Ebenezer 1,2
 Soil, Water and Environment Division, Department of Agricultural Engineering, Federal University of Technology, PMB 704, Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria
2 Soil Science Department, Federal University of Lavras, PO Box 3037, MG, 37.200-000, Lavras, Brasil.
Accepted on June 18, 2012
The degradation of soil structure in mechanised agriculture has been widely recognized as a major threat to sustainable food production and the environment. Whereas biological and chemical degradation in soil could be easily assessed from temporal analyses of relevant factors, the assessment of physical degradation in soil is contentious except in eroded area. In this study, we present the application of load bearing capacity model developed from soil precompression stress as a technique for assessing degradation in soil structure. The model was applied to estimate the load bearing capacities of soils sample collected in Brazil and Nigeria. It was also applied in estimating the permissible pressure on soil at different profiles as well as in evaluating the effect of traffic frequency and the efficiency of mitigation strategies. The results from this study showed that the use of the Load Bearing Capacity models developed from representative soil sample, when used with the precompression stresses determined after traffic allowed an accurate estimation of the compressive responses of the soil. Application in traffic study showed that compaction susceptibility increase with increasing traffic intensity, while mitigation strategies involving the use of forest residue reduces the extent of compaction in forestry operation. It is therefore concluded that appropriate use of the precompression stresses data of soils will assist as a decision support tool in the planning of the mechanized agriculture and forestry operations in order to avoid soil structure degradation and the consequent environmental damage.