Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Subsoil Compaction: A hidden form of Soil Sealing in Europe

By Robert J. A. Jones and Luca Montanarella

Abstract

There are two definitions of ‘soil sealing’: (I) ‘covering (sealing) the soil surface by impervious materials, e.g. concrete, metal, glass, tarmac and plastic’; and (II) ‘changing the nature of the soil such that it behaves as an impermeable medium, e.g. by compaction’. The main causes of soil sealing according to the first definition (I) are building development (e.g. industrial and residential premises) and transport (e.g. roads). Changing the nature of the soil such that it behaves as an impermeable medium (definition II) is an extension to include the potential effects of the passage of machinery (mostly agricultural) and the effects of heavy rainfall. Intensification of agriculture is now recognised as often having a detrimental effect on soils, not least the widespread development of compaction. The worst effects of compaction at the surface can be rectified relatively easily by cultivation but once subsoil compaction occurs, it can be extremely difficult and expensive to alleviate. It is now clear that the detrimental effects of subsoil compaction go far beyond agricultural concerns of a decrease in yield and increase in management costs. Environmental impacts include increased erosion risk, accelerated runoff and increased pollution. A preliminary attempt to assess the susceptibility of subsoils in Europe to compaction is presented here in the context of soil sealing. The resulting distribution is only the first stage in assessing the vulnerability of subsoils in Europe to compaction. The biggest problem with soil sealing as an environmental indicator is the difficulty of establishing the true extent at the regional and larger scales. However, subsoil compaction should not be ignored because it probably affects a larger area in Europe than urbanisation (land consumption) and in this respect it must be regarded as an important process of soil sealing

Topics: subsoil, compaction, soil, sealing, Europe
Publisher: Joint Research Centre
Year: 2001
OAI identifier: oai:dspace.lib.cranfield.ac.uk:1826/4269
Provided by: Cranfield CERES

Suggested articles

Citations

  1. (2001). Assessing the vulnerability of subsoils in Europe to compaction: a preliminary analysis. Soil & Tillage Research, doi
  2. (2000). Assessing the vulnerability of subsoils in Europe to compaction. In: doi
  3. (2000). Concerted Actions on subsoil compaction in Western European Countries and on subsoil compaction in Central and Eastern European Countries. In:
  4. (1995). Crop monitoring and yield forecasting activities of the MARS Project. In: European Land Information Systems for Agroenvironmental Monitoring.
  5. (1999). Description of the Concerted Action “Experiences with the impact of subsoil compaction on soil, crop growth and environment and ways to prevent subsoil compaction”. In: Experiences with the impact of subsoil compaction in the European Community, doi
  6. (1998). Land Information Systems – Developments for planning the sustainable use of land resources.
  7. (1993). OECD core set of indicators for environmental performance reviews. Environmental Monographs No.83, doi
  8. (2001). Subsoil compaction by high axle load traffic. doi
  9. (1995). Technical and economic feasibility of low ground pressure running gear. doi
  10. (2000). The vulnerability of subsoils in Europe to compaction. doi
  11. (1999). Towards the development of a system of policy relevant indicators on soil. European Soil Forum,
  12. (1994). Trends in tractor design with particular reference to Europe. doi
  13. (1977). Water retention, porosity and density of field soils. doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.