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University of Nottingham
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Soil Tillage, Traction and Compaction


Course Overview

The module is designed to provide a comprehensive programme in the sciences of soil tillage, traction and compaction and their application to improve tillage and traction efficiency, whilst minimising compaction.

The module looks in detail at the design and function of implements used in primary, secondary cultivations and harvesting in relation to their impact on soil properties. The design and effect of different vehicles (tyres, tracks etc.) in combination with these implements/machines will also be considered


Key Facts File

Soil Tillage, Traction and Compaction
Type/Duration: Module - 5 days - The module can be taken as a stand-alone training course, but also makes up one of the optional modules of the Postgraduate Awards in AgriFood.

To obtain academic credit for this module, participants should complete the assessment. This will comprise a literature review and evaluation of a tillage system. Part of the assignment may rely on team work in the research of different aspects and imposes this on theories postulated in the lecture. The assignment will be centred on conservation soil management in the UK or elsewhere as appropriate.

Alternatively, the individual units can be studied as CPD only.
Entry Requirements:
A biological science degree or work experience in earth science.
Credits: 15 Credits
Cost: The tuition price of each taught module is £1,200 (no VAT to be added, residential accommodation and meals are additional), however up to 50% of the funding for the tuition fee could be made available to you through the AgriFood Advanced Training Partnership. 
Campus: Harper Adams University, Newport, Shropshire, TF10 8NB.

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Areas covered will include:

  • Definition of terms: requirements for crop growth; soil and water management; mechanisation.

  • Soil shear strength: soil mechanics principles, Mohr-Coulomb concept, General Soil Mechanics Equation (Reece & Hettiaratchi), Micklethawaite theories; effect of moisture content and density on soil shear strength.

  • Tillage: effect of implement depth/width ratio and rake angle on draught, penetration and soil disturbance; implement design for cultivations; selection of implements suitable for soil and methods adopted for soil loosening, inversion, compaction, disintegration, smoothing, cutting, mixing, movement and weed management; critical appraisal of present practices and future development; principles of zero and minimum tillage;

  • Crop establishment equipment: drills and transplanters.

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  • Tractive performance: principles of wheel and track layer performance; slip/pull relationships; rolling resistance; tyre type, size and inflation pressure; soil type and condition; ballasting and other traction aids, simple models of traction, measuring soil properties and tractive performance, mobility, field performance and trafficability; draft animals.

  • Soil compaction and smear: characteristics; causes and consequences of soil compaction; assessment and alleviation of compaction; tyre load, size, inflation pressure and contact pressure; reducing and/or removing soil compaction; tractor/implement positioning strategies for minimising compaction; controlled traffic systems; light automotive vehicles.

  • Application of crop waste and processing effluents: spreading, size reduction and incorporation of soil wastes; spraying or injection of liquid wastes.

  • Implement attachment and control system: coupler requirement for trailed and mounted implements; PTO connections; mechanical and hydraulic power transmission systems and components; trailed, semi mounted and mounted attachment systems; lateral and vertical stability and control; weight distribution and weight transfer.

At the end of the course, delegates will be able to:

  • Evaluate the key theories underpinning the soil/implement/vehicle interactions, design of equipment and its subsequent management.

  • Design, select and use tillage and traction equipment for the benefit of soil management in agriculture whilst maintaining and improving environmental stewardship.

  • Evaluate alternative soil/implement/vehicle management scenarios and to recommend both existing and novel practical methods to farmers and land managers.


Course Contact Details:

Zoey Sermon
Professional Vocational Education Administrator - Harper Adams University
phoneicon t: +44 (0)195 281 5148 
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