iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Impact of wheeled and tracked tractors on soil physical properties in a mixed conifer stand

Martina Cambi (1)   , Giacomo Certini (2), Fabio Fabiano (1), Cristiano Foderi (1), Andrea Laschi (1), Rodolfo Picchio (3)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 9, Issue 1, Pages 89-94 (2015)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1382-008
Published: May 22, 2015 - Copyright © 2015 SISEF

Research Articles

Damage to forest soil caused by vehicle traffic mainly consists of soil compaction, displacement, and rut formation. Severity of the damage depends on vehicle mass, weight of the carried loads, ground morphology, and soil properties, such as moisture. This paper investigates the impacts of two types of vehicles (tracked or wheeled tractor), traffic intensities (one or five skidding cycles) and soil moisture (24% or 13% by weight) on compaction of a loam textured soil in a mixed conifer stand of central Italy. Changes in porosity, bulk density, shear and penetration resistances were analyzed. The latter three parameters were significantly higher in the trafficked soil portions than in the undisturbed ones in all treatments, while the opposite was true for porosity. The impact on soil bulk density and porosity was stronger for the wheeled tractor working on moist soil, while no significant effect of soil moisture was recorded for the tracked tractor. Shear and penetration resistances increased as a consequence of traffic, depending on both tractor type and soil moisture. The largest impact on shear resistance was recorded for the wheeled tractor on moist soil, while significant differences in penetration resistance were observed only between tracked and wheeled tractors in dry soil conditions. In order to preserve soil quality during logging activities, we recommend to operate under dry soil conditions and to limit vehicle movement on existing or new planned trails.


Soil Compaction, Rutting, Skid Trails, Soil Degradation, Forest Management

Authors’ address

Martina Cambi
Fabio Fabiano
Cristiano Foderi
Andrea Laschi
Dipartimento di Gestione dei Sistemi Agrari, Alimentari e Forestali (GESAAF), Università di Firenze. v. S. Bonaventura 13, I-50145 Firenze (Italy)
Giacomo Certini
Dipartimento di Scienze delle Produzioni Agroalimentari e dell’Ambiente (DISPAA), Università di Firenze. p.le delle Cascine 18, I-50144 Firenze (Italy)
Rodolfo Picchio
Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie per l’Agricoltura, le Foreste, la Natura e l’Energia (DAFNE), Università della Tuscia, v. San Camillo De Lellis, I-01100 Viterbo (Italy)

Corresponding author

Martina Cambi


Cambi M, Certini G, Fabiano F, Foderi C, Laschi A, Picchio R (2015). Impact of wheeled and tracked tractors on soil physical properties in a mixed conifer stand. iForest 9: 89-94. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1382-008

Academic Editor

Elena Paoletti

Paper history

Received: Jun 20, 2014
Accepted: Jan 31, 2015

First online: May 22, 2015
Publication Date: Feb 21, 2016
Publication Time: 3.70 months

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