Modern agricultural machinery has a bad effect on soil fertility and causes natural disasters. This conclusion was reached by a group of scientists from Sweden, Switzerland and the United States, published his work in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The study notes that if in the late 1950s, combine harvesters with grain weighed about 4 tons, then modern ones can weigh 36 tons. Modern agricultural machinery is designed to protect fragile soil: tires are made soft and wide, which reduces ground pressure.
But this saves only the surface layer of the soil. But in the deeper layers, the soil is compacted so much that its fertility is threatened. Excessive compaction also affects the ability to pass water.
“This may be one of the reasons for the decline in crops and the increase in the number of floods in the world,” said study author Professor Thomas Keller from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
Keller and colleagues mapped the lands most at risk of "chronic compaction" of the soil. The most problematic areas were Australia, Europe, North and South America. Scientists estimate that one-fifth of the world's arable land has been so damaged that there is little chance of restoring it. To a lesser extent, compaction affects soils in Asia and Africa, where the level of agricultural mechanization is not so high.