Soil compaction is one of the processes responsible for soil physical degradation that may result in the loss of sustainability of agricultural production. Therefore, it is important to have instrumental strategies to quantify soil physical properties that are influenced by soil compression and used to assess soil quality. The objectives of this study were to: (i) develop an inexpensive pneumatic consolidometer, (ii) evaluate its functionality by the study of the compressive behaviour of a sandy clay Rhodic Hapludox under no-tillage, (iii) evaluate the potential use of pneumatic propulsion to determine penetration resistance (PR) and tensile strength of aggregates (TS) using the proposed consolidometer. Compression curves based on undisturbed soil sampled in and between rows under black oat were used to evaluate the soil compressive behaviour. Uniaxial compression tests were performed in these samples at a soil water content corresponding to a matric potential of -10 kPa and used to determine the compression index (CI) and preconsolidation pressure (σp) and their correlations with other soil physical properties. PR of undisturbed samples of a sandy loam soil under citrus was determined. Aggregates from two Ultisols were used to determine TS in a hardsetting and a non-hardsetting horizons. Results showed that soil bulk density before the uniaxial compression test was higher (p < 0.05) in-between the black oat rows. The compression curve was sensitive to differences in soil structure between sampling positions, and σp and CI indicated, respectively, higher load support and less susceptibility to compaction (p < 0.05) in-between the black oat rows. The use of pneumatic propulsion did not influence the results of PR and TS. Therefore, the soil compression curve, PR and TS can be determined with the equipment developed in this study.
uniaxial compression test; preconsolidation pressure; compression index; soil resistance to penetration; tensile stress