Morphological characterisation of soil structure in tilled fields : from a diagnosis method to the modelling of structural changes over time

Roger-Estrade Jean, Richard Guy, Caneill Jacques, Boizard H., Coquet Y., Defossez Pierre, Manichon Hubert. 2004. Morphological characterisation of soil structure in tilled fields : from a diagnosis method to the modelling of structural changes over time. Soil and Tillage Research, 79 (1) : pp. 33-49.

Journal article ; Article de revue à facteur d'impact
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Abstract : Characterisation of soit structure within the tilled layer of cultivated fields is crucial because the importance of this soil characteristic on the biological, chemical and physical properties of the soil and its repercussions on water cycle, root growth and functioning. We present in this paper a method for field characterisation of soil structure. This method, practised since the 1970s, was designed for field diagnosis of the effects of cropping systems on soil structure. It is based on a stratification of the observation face of a pit dug perpendicular to the direction of tillage and traffic: spatial compartments are distinguished, according to the nature of the mechanical stresses they have been submitted to during tillage and crop management. Characterisation of soil structure is performed on a morphological basis, using two criteria, each of them addressing a specific organisation level of the soil: firstly, clods size distribution, proportion of fine soil and the way the clods are brought together are considered; then, secondly, the clods are classified in three types, on the basis of the importance and the origin of their internal structural porosity. Physical measurements (bulk density, compaction test, and water retention) are presented, which demonstrate that physical behaviour is different between clod types. These results justify the use of the method to model changes with time in soil structure, under the effects of the main factors affecting soil structure dynamics in tilled fields: compaction, fragmentation, climate and biological activity. A model which simulates at the field scale the changes overtime of the proportion of compacted clods within the tilled layer is presented. In this model, the tilled layer is represented as a set of 1 cm2 pixels, regularly located on a square grid. Each pixel is defined by its co-ordinates and a specific structure, compacted or non compacted. The pixel co-ordinates are modified during ploughing, for which the model calculates the lateral and vertical displacement of the soil. The structure of any individual pixel can be changed, depending on the soil condition and the operation type. This model was evaluated by comparing its outcomes to measurements obtained from a long term field experiment designed to study soil structure dynamics. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Structure du sol, Travail du sol, Propriété physicochimique du sol, Compactage du sol, Mouvement de l'eau dans le sol, Pratique culturale, Trait morphologique du sol, Modèle de simulation, Motte de terre, Mécanique du sol

Classification Agris : U10 - Computer science, mathematics and statistics
P33 - Soil chemistry and physics

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Roger-Estrade Jean, INRA (FRA)
  • Richard Guy, INRA (FRA)
  • Caneill Jacques, ENESAD (FRA)
  • Boizard H., INRA (FRA)
  • Coquet Y., INRA (FRA)
  • Defossez Pierre, INRA (FRA)
  • Manichon Hubert, CIRAD-DG-Direction générale (FRA)

Autres liens de la publication

  • Document en bibliothèque
  • Localisation du document : CD_BR12770 [(Bibliothèque de Lavalette)] ; CD_BR12769 [(Bibliothèque de Lavalette)]

Source : Cirad - Agritrop (

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