The increased weight of agricultural machinery can threaten fertility due to soil compaction. Article about it published Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Mechanization radically changed agriculture and increased crop yields many times over. In the 20th and 21st centuries, the carrying capacity of combines and other agricultural equipment has increased 10 times to increase productivity. At the same time, the engineers increased the area of the wheels or tracks to maintain an acceptable ground pressure.
Thomas Keller of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and colleagues draw parallels between the evolution of agricultural machinery and sauropods, the heaviest animals to walk the earth. This group of dinosaurs included brachiosaurs and diplodocus, whose weight could reach 60 tons. At the same time, the area of \u200b\u200bthe feet was also large to reduce the specific pressure.
Researchers argue that increasing the weight of the body or machine harms the soil. “For the same specific pressure, higher wheel loads result in higher mechanical stress on the ground. Strong mechanical stress spreads to deeper and wetter layers, causing soil compaction in a critical area for root growth,” they write. In this context, per leg The question arises of how the fertility of the land on which sauropods, which reached about 20 tons versus 10 tons per heavy-duty harvester wheel, was preserved, scientists suggest that these dinosaurs walked along certain paths to avoid chewing on plants or swam for long periods of time, feeding on coastal bushes.
Scientists estimate that about 20 percent of farmland today is at risk of compaction, and agronomists need to address this issue.