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SOIL, 4, 37-45, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-4-37-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Original research article
05 Feb 2018
How serious a problem is subsoil compaction in the Netherlands? A survey based on probability sampling
Dick J. Brus1 and Jan J. H. van den Akker2 1Biometris, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 16, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands
2Alterra, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 32, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands
Abstract. Although soil compaction is widely recognized as a soil threat to soil resources, reliable estimates of the acreage of overcompacted soil and of the level of soil compaction parameters are not available. In the Netherlands data on subsoil compaction were collected at 128 locations selected by stratified random sampling. A map showing the risk of subsoil compaction in five classes was used for stratification. Measurements of bulk density, porosity, clay content and organic matter content were used to compute the relative bulk density and relative porosity, both expressed as a fraction of a threshold value. A subsoil was classified as overcompacted if either the relative bulk density exceeded 1 or the relative porosity was below 1. The sample data were used to estimate the means of the two subsoil compaction parameters and the overcompacted areal fraction. The estimated global means of relative bulk density and relative porosity were 0.946 and 1.090, respectively. The estimated areal fraction of the Netherlands with overcompacted subsoils was 43 %. The estimates per risk map unit showed two groups of map units: a low-risk group (units 1 and 2, covering only 4.6 % of the total area) and a high-risk group (units 3, 4 and 5). The estimated areal fraction of overcompacted subsoil was 0 % in the low-risk unit and 47 % in the high-risk unit. The map contains no information about where overcompacted subsoils occur. This was caused by the poor association of the risk map units 3, 4 and 5 with the subsoil compaction parameters and subsoil overcompaction. This can be explained by the lack of time for recuperation.

Citation: Brus, D. J. and van den Akker, J. J. H.: How serious a problem is subsoil compaction in the Netherlands? A survey based on probability sampling, SOIL, 4, 37-45, https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-4-37-2018, 2018.
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Short summary
Subsoil compaction is an important soil threat. It is caused by heavy machines used in agriculture. The aim of this study was to estimate how large the area with overcompacted subsoils is in the Netherlands. This was done by selecting locations randomly and determining the porosity and bulk density of the soil at these locations. It appeared that 43 % of the soils in the Netherlands is overcompacted, and so we conclude that subsoil compaction is indeed a serious problem in the Netherlands.
Subsoil compaction is an important soil threat. It is caused by heavy machines used in...
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