Tillage of compacted haul roads and landings in the boreal forests of Alberta, Canada
Ameliorative practices for restoring and maintaining long-term productivity in forests
Forest Ecology and Managemen
Ten temporary haul roads and landings in west-central Alberta were tilled with a winged subsoiler specifically designed for tilling compacted forest soils. Surface soil had been removed from all sites during construction, and spread over three of the four landings prior to tillage. Soil bulk density at the 0–10, 10–20, and 20–30 cm depths, and clod size distribution at the 0–30 cm depth were measured immediately after tillage. Bulk density of undisturbed and compacted (untilled) soil was also measured. Mean bulk density of compacted soil in haul roads was significantly greater than the bulk density of undisturbed soil, but not for landings. Tillage significantly reduced mean bulk density on three haul roads and two landings; subsurface soil was relatively dry at these sites. Most soils were difficult to fracture into small clods because these weakly aggregated soils were severely remoulded and compacted by equipment, particularly logging trucks operating on the haul roads. The degraded soil was massive and the strenght of the surface soil layers was generally much higher than was the strength of lower soil layers; this resulted in the subsoil deforming around the wings of the subsoiler rather than fracturing the surface soil. Fracturing of compacted soil into small clods was apparently enhanced by at least 2 years of frost action. The winged subsoiler was only moderately effective at fracturing recently compacted soil because of an often high soil water content, but it was observed that sites where soil was broken into large clods was loosened by frost action the following winter. Alternative methods of tilling compacted soil that insure soil fracturing over a wider range of soil water contents are needed for loosening compacted soil in northern boreal forests.
McNabb, D.H.; Bengtsson, J. 1994. Tillage of compacted haul roads and landings in the boreal forests of Alberta, Canada. Forest Ecology and Managemen 66 (1-3): 179-194.