Cranfield National Soil Resources Institute laboratories

The soil bin
  • The rainfall simulation laboratory includes a selection of pressurised and gravity-fed rainfall simulators that enable accurate simulation of temperate and tropical rainfall, drop size, intensities and kinetic energy conditions over a range of return period storm events. As well as undertaking fundamental research into erosion processes and leaching studies at a sub-process level, the erosion laboratory is ideal for evaluating the comparative erodibility of slope forming materials (including soil, waste rock and ores). A comprehensive range of erosion control technologies can be tested using slope adjustable (0–45°) runoff rigs with 1 m x 2 m test surfaces and a comprehensive range of experimental trays, all with the capacity for collection of surface runoff, leachate and particulates. In addition, there are a variety of modular (up to 6 m x 2 m) and single post, pressure-fed rainfall simulators for field-based testing in a range of different terrains and situations. Equipment is available to establish and remotely monitor large scale field plots on a range of cropping systems and engineered slopes. The laboratory recently featured in an article on soil management and flooding by the BBC.
  • The soil lane is designed for whole vehicle testing. It is 45 m long, 5 m wide and 0.75 m to 2 m deep, with a subsurface irrigation/drainage system for soil moisture control. Substrate (sand or soil) is prepared in situ against a reference plan in a controlled and repeatable manner.
  • The soil bin is a 20 m long, 1.7 m wide and 0.7 m deep soil dynamics facility that can be prepared in layers to create a number of highly controlled and repeatable test profile conditions. The soil bin processor has instrumented mounting points for the testing of cultivation implements, tyres and sensors, and an infinitely variable drive system to allow for both low and high speed testing. The facility can also be used to determine draught and vertical force requirements and tillage efficiency.