Wagon wheel ruts are still visible along pioneer trails in the USA, which suggests that vehicular traffic can modify soil properties for a century. We compared physical properties of a Barnes loam (fine-loamy, mixed Udic Haploboroll) across three transects of the 1864 to 1871 Wadsworth Trail. Compaction was evident within wheel ruts of the trail, as penetration resistance and bulk density were 10% greater and water infiltration and air permeability were 50% lower within the wheel ruts than outside the trail. Erosion was also apparent within the wheel ruts, as the greater density could not fully account for the thinner A horizon (60 mm). Our investigation suggests that degradation of soil properties caused by compaction or erosion from wagon wheel or animal traffic may persist for >100 yr. This information underscores the importance that agricultural practices must minimize soil loss or compaction.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||4|
|Journal||Soil Science Society of America Journal|
|State||Published - Jan 1 1998|