In this study, the effects of three different main preparatory tillage operations: ploughing at 0.4 m (P40) and 0.20 m (P20) depth and harrowing at 0.20 m depth (MT) were investigated. The tillage operations were carried out at two different times, as the soil water content increased over time from rainfall: (low, 58% (LH) and high, 80% (HH) of field capacity). Results obtained from the soil monitoring carried out before and after tillage showed high values of soil strength in terms of Penetration resistance and shear strength particularly in deeper soil layers at lower water content. During tillage, fossil-fuel energy requirements for P40 LH and P20 LH were 25% and 35% higher, respectively, with respect to the HH treatments and tractor slip was very high (P40 LH = 32.4%) with respect to the P40 HH treatment (16%). Soil water content significantly influenced tractor performance during soil ploughing at 0.40 m depth but no effect was observed for the MT treatment. The highly significant linear relations between grain yield and soil penetration resistance highlight how soil strength may be good indicator of soil productivity. We conclude that ploughing soil to a 0.20 m depth or harrowing soil to a 0.20 m depth is suitable for this type of soil under climate change scenarios.
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