Soil Penetration by Earthworms and Plant Roots-Mechanical Energetics of Bioturbation of Compacted Soils
Schymanski, Stanislaus J.
- Journal Article
Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
We quantify mechanical processes common to soil penetration by earthworms and growing plant roots, including the energetic requirements for soil plastic displacement. The basic mechanical model considers cavity expansion into a plastic wet soil involving wedging by root tips or earthworms via cone-like penetration followed by cavity expansion due to pressurized earthworm hydroskeleton or root radial growth. The mechanical stresses and resulting soil strains determine the mechanical energy required for bioturbation under different soil hydro-mechanical conditions for a realistic range of root/earthworm geometries. Modeling results suggest that higher soil water content and reduced clay content reduce the strain energy required for soil penetration. The critical earthworm or root pressure increases with increased diameter of root or earthworm, however, results are insensitive to the cone apex (shape of the tip). The invested mechanical energy per unit length increase with increasing earthworm and plant root diameters, whereas mechanical energy per unit of displaced soil volume decreases with larger diameters. The study provides a quantitative framework for estimating energy requirements for soil penetration work done by earthworms and plant roots, and delineates intrinsic and external mechanical limits for bioturbation processes. Estimated energy requirements for earthworm biopore networks are linked to consumption of soil organic matter and suggest that earthworm populations are likely to consume a significant fraction of ecosystem net primary production to sustain their subterranean activities Show more
Journal / seriesPLoS ONE
Pages / Article No.
PublisherPublic Library of Science
Organisational unit03812 - Or, Dani / Or, Dani
Related publications and datasets
Is referenced by: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0136225
MoreShow all metadata