The impact of drought is more severe where soil has been damaged by heavy machinery, according to University of Queensland agricultural engineer Jeff Tullberg. "Soil damage resulting from traffic and tillage reduces the soil's ability to absorb and store rainfall," Dr Tullberg says. "The result is less moisture for the crops in dry times and, when good rain does arrive, more water runs off faster from damaged soil, carrying more soil, nutrients and pesticides to the rivers. We are only just beginning to understand that soil damage is a common factor contributing to the effects of drought, flood and waterway pollution. Equally we are beginning to see the relationship between soil damage and the wheels of heavy machinery."
Dr Tullberg says tere will be a major role for precision guidance in the future so that all soil-engaging machine operations are targeted to precise zones. This will allow all heavy wheels to be restricted to narrow, permanent lanes.
Contact: Dr Jeff Tullberg 07 5460 1354