The effect of organic carbon content on soil compression characteristics

Suravi, K. N.; Attenborough, K.; Taherzadeh, S.; Macdonald, A. J.; Powlson, D. S.; Ashton, R. W. and Whalley, W. R. (2021). The effect of organic carbon content on soil compression characteristics. Soil and Tillage Research, 209, article no. 104975.



We investigated the effect of soil organic carbon (SOC) on the consolidation behaviour of soil from two long term field experiments at Rothamsted; the Broadbalk Wheat Experiment and Hoosfield Spring Barley. These experiments are located on soil with similar particle size distributions, and include treatments with SOC contents ranging from approximately 1–3.5 g/100 g. Soils taken from plots with contrasting SOC contents were compressed and deformed in a triaxial cell and the normal consolidation and critical state lines were determined. We found that the compression index was independent of SOC, but the void ratio at any given effective stress was highly correlated with organic carbon content. By comparison with uniaxial compression data, the apparent influence of SOC on the compression index is likely to be due to its effect on soil hydraulic properties rather than any intrinsic effects of strength. The plastic limit test appears to be a useful and simple test to allow direct comparison of soil physical behaviour and expected soil density.

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