Soil compaction causes important physical modifications at the subsurface soil, especially from 10 to 30 cm depths. Compaction leads to a decrease in infiltration rates, in saturated hydraulic conductivity, and in porosity, as well as causes an increase in soil bulk density. However, compaction is considered to be a frequent negative consequence of applied agricultural management practices in Slovakia.
Detailed determination of soil compaction and the investigation of a compaction impact on water content, water penetration depth and potential change in water storage in sandy loam soil under sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) was carried out at 3 plots (K1, K2 and K3) within an experimental site (field) K near Kalinkovo village (southwest Slovakia). Plot K1 was situated on the edge of the field, where heavy agricultural equipment was turning. Plot K2 represented the ridge (the crop row), and plot K3 the furrow (the inter–row area of the field). Soil penetration resistance and bulk density of undisturbed soil samples was determined together with the infiltration experiments taken at all defined plots.
The vertical bulk density distribution was similar to the vertical soil penetration resistance distribution, i.e., the highest values of bulk density and soil penetration resistance were estimated at the plot K1 in 15–20 cm depths, and the lowest values at the plot K2. Application of 50 mm of water resulted in the penetration depth of 30 cm only at all 3 plots. Soil water storage measured at the plot K2 (in the ridge) was higher than the soil water storage measured at the plot K3 (in the furrow), and 4.2 times higher than the soil water storage measured at the most compacted plot K1 on the edge of the field. Results of the experiments indicate the sequence in the thickness of compacted soil layers at studied plots in order (from the least to highest compacted ones): K2–K3–K1.