Soil compaction caused by field traffic is one of the main threats to agricultural landscapes. Compacted soils have a reduced hydraulic conductivity, lower plant growth and increased surface runoff resulting in numerous environmental issues such as increased nutrient leaching and flood risk. Mitigating soil compaction, therefore, is a major goal for a sustainable agriculture and environmental protection. To prevent undesirable effects of field traffic, it is essential to know where and when soil compaction may occur. This study developed a model for soil compaction risk assessment of arable soils at regional scale. A combination of (i) soil, weather, crop type and machinery information; (ii) a soil moisture model and (iii) soil compaction models forms the SaSCiA-model (Spatially explicit Soil Compaction risk Assessment). The SaSCiA-model computes daily maps of soil compaction risk and associated area statistics for varying depths at actual field conditions and for entire regions. Applications with open access data in two different study areas in northern Germany demonstrated the model’s applicability. Soil compaction risks strongly varied in space and time throughout the year. SaSCiA allows a detailed spatio-temporal analysis of soil compaction risk at the regional scale, which exceed those of currently available models. Applying SaSCiA may support farmers, stakeholders and consultants in making decision for a more sustainable agriculture.
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