This entry discusses the effects of compaction on agricultural soils. Once a soil becomes compacted, the soil mass will occupy a smaller volume than previously, resulting in a denser packing arrangement of soil particles. The physical effects of compaction are normally quantified by an observed decrease in porosity, and increase in dry bulk density.
Different soils have different resistances to compactive forces, and these resistances change depending on the recent history of the soil (e.g., management strategy, initial moisture contents). Generally, drier soils exhibit greater strengths and thus resistances to compaction.
Compaction of dry brittle soil may cause discrete soil aggregates to fracture into a number of smaller discrete aggregates. This process is important in preparing seedbeds prior to planting where a narrow, relatively small particle size distribution is preferred (see Utomo and Dexter, 1981). However, in a wet soil, because of a high degree of plasticity, deformation...
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