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Simulation of Soil-Micropenetrometer Interaction Using the Discrete Element Method (DEM)

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 59(5): 1157-1163. (doi: 10.13031/trans.59.11726) @2016
Authors:   Zhiwei Zeng, Ying Chen
Keywords:   Calibration, Cone index, Micropenetrometer, PFC3D, Simulation, Validation.

Abstract. Understanding the soil cone index (CI) is important in agricultural engineering and agronomy as it affects the energy requirement of field machines and the development of plant roots. In this study, a discrete element model (DEM) was developed to simulate a micropenetrometer and its interaction with soil using Particle Flow Code in Three Dimensions (PFC3D). The dynamic behavior of the model was investigated for different container sizes and probe interactions. To calibrate and validate the model, laboratory and field tests were conducted to measure the CI of a loamy fine sand soil using a micropenetrometer. The calibrated value of particle stiffness was 10,300 N m-1 for the soil. The CI values simulated using the model were comparable with the field measurements with relative errors below 15% for hard and soft soil conditions. The results showed that increasing the penetration speed in the model resulted in higher CI outputs and less computational time. The model allowed monitoring of CI at different soil bulk densities. The simulation results showed that the soil CI increased linearly with the increase in bulk density.

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