Olatunbosun Ayetan

Role: HQP Scholar

Degree: PhD

Project: Comparing Tractor Tires and Tracks for Their Effects on Compaction of Agricultural Soils using X-ray Computed Tomography

Department: School of Environmental Sciences (SES) (OAC)

What inspired you to pursue your current degree? 

Based on my extensive background in agriculture, the project became fascinating as soil structural stability determines agricultural productivity because it affects the distribution and storage of water, air, nutrients, and biological activities necessary for crop growth and development. Also, the doctoral program will engage me in applying intellectual acuity to probing deep into scientific problems and proffering innovative solutions relevant to the Agri-food sector.

What about your research area excites you?  

This project will help us to quantify the impact of agricultural production systems on soil health by focusing on production practices and land use which affect soil structure. The high-resolution x-ray computed tomography technique that will be used in the research offers a robust means of understanding spatial configuration and characteristics of soil components, and how this is related to soil behavior and processes.

What challenges do you find in your research, and how do you try to overcome them?  

We intend to compare various tractor configurations across the soil types and moisture conditions in Ontario each year. The challenges faced are access to field-scale farm equipment from industry and the availability of farms to investigate true field dynamics. We are addressing this by working closely with OMAFRA.

How would you describe your research and the implications of your project?  

Soil compaction by agricultural machinery can severely impact crop productivity in the short and long term, and it’s a major problem facing agriculture in Ontario and globally. With the trend towards larger farms, more massive equipment, and increasing unpredictability of climate, the risk of soil compaction increases. In response, many producers are considering track-based implements or rapid tire deflation/re-inflation systems on their equipment. The impact of these systems, relative to soil texture, organic matter, and moisture status is still not well understood. High-resolution x-ray computed tomography (CT) is used in this research, in conjunction with infield pressure sensors and soil penetrometers to better understand structural changes under compaction in Ontario soils. The outcome of this project will be relevant to agricultural producers, equipment manufacturers, policymakers, and researchers by improving the understanding of how agricultural management influences biophysical processes within the agri-food system. It will enable us to refine existing best management practices to mitigate soil compaction in Ontario.

What are three of your favorite activities outside the lab?  

I love to cook, meet people, and read Astronomy/Space exploration news.

What is one important thing you have learned during the pandemic? 

The importance of human connection.