The use of computer simulation as a decision making tool to improve machinery set-up, usage and performance.

Mustafa Ucgul1, Chris Saunders1, Jack Desbiolles1

1 Agricultural Machinery Research and Design Centre, School of Engineering, University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes, SA 5095, Australia   –  E:,


Discrete element method (DEM) is a powerful computer simulation technique that can model soil and machinery interactions and predict aspects of soil manipulation and amendment incorporation within the soil profile. DEM can investigate different operation parameters without the need for expensive and time consuming field tests that can only be undertaken at certain times of the year. In this paper two different tools used for soil amelioration; namely the rotary spader and deep rippers with inclusion plate attached, have been investigated using DEM. The simulation results were also validated by performing a series of field tests. Result of the study showed that rotary spaders, commonly chosen to bury and mix soil amendments, resulted in large differences in the uniformity of mixing depending upon the machine set-up and operation. It was also found from the results of ripping with inclusion plate simulations that the amount of surface amendment material incorporated to deeper soil layers decreases with increasing forward speed and ripping depth. Results also showed that (further improvement is required in inclusion plate design for improved top-down material incorporation and the effect of surface amendment burial on crop response also needs further research


The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agronomists in Australia. It has approximately 500 active members drawn from government, universities, research organisations and the private sector.

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David Marland Photography Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University

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