Soil response to skidder and dozer traffic as indicated by soil stress residuals
Ground-based timber harvesting systems are common throughout many regions of the United States. Machine movements during harvesting can negatively impact soils leading to increased erosion and soil compaction. This is especially true of skid trails that have been established to facilitate tree removals. Several techniques have the potential to reduce soil compaction including corduroying skid trails with slash or using equipment exerting lower ground pressures. Typical measures of compaction include bulk density and mechanical resistance. Bulk density measurements require destructive sampling and are time consuming while mechanical resistance measurements are highly variable due to soil type, moisture content, and operator consistency. A research project was designed to accomplish two objectives: 1) compare and contrast conventional measures of soil compaction with a newer technique using soil stress residuals, and 2) compare the effects of slash versus bare soil on skid trails trafficked by a rubber-tired grapple skidder and a dozer. The project was conducted within an upland hardwood/pine stand in the Ridge and Valley physiographic region. This paper discusses the results from the new technique using soil stress residuals to account for changes in soil properties. This technique provided results with less intensive setup and analysis than conventional methods.