Pull-out behaviour of simulated tree roots embedded in compacted soil
Vegetated ground is strengthened by the suction generated during evapotranspiration as well as physically and mechanically by the reinforcement effect induced by tree roots. When suction suddenly decreases during flooding or intense rainfall, the shear strength of the soil-plant system relies mainly on the physical root reinforcement. In this paper, the pull-out behaviour of simulated roots embedded in a compacted soil is investigated to assess how the soil-plant system is mechanically strengthened. An analytical framework is developed to estimate the pull-out force and it is validated using a series of pull-out tests. The tests are carried out on simulated roots embedded in a box of compacted soil having different water contents and equivalent dry unit weights. The results show that the pull-out capacity of this root system is mainly influenced by the initial (as-compacted) suction, and the length and diameter of the roots. The model predictions agree reasonably well with the experimental observations.