New Study Used 3D Scans to Quantify Soil Structure

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) announces a recent publication co-authored by SHI’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Cristine Morgan, and Research Scientist, Dr. Dianna Bagnall is now available, open source, in Geoderma.

“An in situ method for quantifying tillage effects on soil structure using multistripe laser triangulation” describes the development of a novel procedure for rapid soil structure analysis in the field. The paper shows that 3D scans can measure the effect of tillage on soil structure in Vertisols.

Soil structure is an essential physical property and measure of soil health degraded by soil tillage, but methods for quantifying soil structure are both few and time-consuming. The new method quantified soil structure quickly (15 min of scanning per A horizon exposure) in the field. Additionally, the method detected differences in soil structure that resulted from the adoption of no-till, showing that no-till fields had soil structure more like that of perennial grass fields than conventionally tilled fields. 

The paper was co-authored by Dianna K. Bagnall, Edward J. Jones, Sarah Balke, Cristine L.S. Morgan, and Alex B. McBratney.
The authors would like to acknowledge support by the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture [2018-67019-27975] and the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Soil Survey. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA, NIFA, or NRCS.

Access the publication now at