Journal of Forestry Research

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 657–662 | Cite as

How does organic matter affect the physical and mechanical properties of forest soil?

  • Ehsan Abdi
  • Shojaat Babapour
  • Baris Majnounian
  • Ghavamodin Zahedi Amiri
  • Azade Deljouei
Original Paper


Determining the physical and mechanical properties of soil and its behavior for engineering projects is essential for road construction operations. One of the most important principles in forest road construction, which is usually neglected, is to avoid mixing organic matter with road materials during excavation and embankment construction. The current study aimed to assess the influence of organic matter on the physical properties and mechanical behaviors of forest soil and to analyze the relation between the amount of organic matter and the behavior of forest soil as road material. A typical soil sample from the study area was collected beside a newly constructed roadbed. The soil was mixed with different percentages of organic matter (control treatment, 5, 10, and 15% by mass) and different tests including Atterberg limits, standard compaction, and California bearing ratio (CBR) tests were conducted on these different soil mixtures. The results showed that soil plasticity increased linearly with increasing organic matter. Increasing the organic matter from 0% (control) to 15% resulted in an increase of 11.64% of the plastic limit and 15.22% of the liquid limit after drying at 110 °C. Also, increasing the organic matter content reduced the soil maximum dry density and increased the optimum moisture content. Increasing the organic matter from 0 to 15% resulted in an increase of 11.0% of the optimum moisture content and a decrease of 0.29 g/cm3 of the maximum dry density. Organic matter decreased the CBR, which is used as the index of road strength. Adding 15% organic matter to the soil resulted in a decrease of the CBR from 15.72 to 4.75%. There was a significant difference between the two drying temperatures (60 and 110 °C) for the same organic matter mixtures with lower water content values after drying at 60 °C. The results revealed the adverse influence of organic matter on soil engineering properties and showed the importance of organic matter removal before excavation and fill construction.


Atterberg limits California bearing ratio Hyrcanian forest Organic matter content Soil compaction 


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Copyright information

© Northeast Forestry University and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ehsan Abdi
    • 1
  • Shojaat Babapour
    • 1
  • Baris Majnounian
    • 1
  • Ghavamodin Zahedi Amiri
    • 1
  • Azade Deljouei
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ForestryUniversity of TehranKarajIran

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