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Revista Brasileira de Ciência do Solo

On-line version ISSN 1806-9657


SILVA, Sérgio Ricardo da; BARROS, Nairam Félix de; COSTA, Liovando Marciano da  and  LEITE, Fernando Palha. Soil compaction and eucalyptus growth in response to forwarder traffic intensity and load. Rev. Bras. Ciênc. Solo [online]. 2008, vol.32, n.3, pp.921-932. ISSN 1806-9657.

During timber exploitation in forest stands harvesting machines pass repeatedly along the same track and can cause soil compaction, which leads to soil erosion and restricted tree root growth. The level of soil compaction depends on the number of passes and weight of the wood load. This paper aimed to evaluate soil compaction and eucalyptus growth as affected by the number of passes and wood load of a forwarder. The study was carried out in Santa Maria de Itabira county, Minas Gerais State - Brazil, on a seven-year-old eucalyptus stand planted on an Oxisol. The trees were felled by chainsaw and manually removed. Plots of 144 m2 (four rows 12 m long in a 3 x 2 m spacing) were then marked off for the conduction of two trials. The first tested the traffic intensity of a forwarder which weighed 11,900 kg and carried 12 m3 wood (density of 480 kg m-3) and passed 2, 4, and 8 times along the same track. In the second trial, the forwarder carried loads of 4, 8, and 12 m3 of wood, and the machine was driven four times along the same track. In each plot, the passes affected four rows. Eucalyptus was planted in 30 x 30 x 30 cm holes on the compacted tracks. The soil in the area is clayey (470 clay and 440 g kg-1 sand content) and at depths of 0-5 cm and 5-10 cm, respectively, soil organic carbon was 406 and 272 g kg-1 and the moisture content during the trial 248 and 249 g kg-1. These layers were assessed for soil bulk density and water-stable aggregates. The infiltration rate was measured by a cylinder infiltrometer. After 441 days the measurements were repeated, with additional analyses of: soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, N-NH4+, N-NO3-, porosity, and penetration resistance. Tree height, stem diameter, and stem dry matter were measured. Forwarder traffic increased soil compaction, resistance to penetration and microporosity while it reduced the geometric mean diameter, total porosity, macroporosity and infiltration rate. Stem dry matter yield and tree height were not affected by soil compaction. Two passes of the forwarder were enough to cause the disturbances at the highest levels. The compaction effects were still persistent 441 days after forwarder traffic.

Keywords : soil bulk density; water-stable aggregates; soil penetration resistance; porosity; soil organic carbon; infiltration.

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