Soil-Machine Dynamics Laboratory (SMDL)

The Soil-Machine Dynamics Laboratory (SMDL) staff have developed three different pieces of machine systems testing equipment. The equipment includes a mobility soil bin, a blade soil bin and a circular soil bin. The lab is located at the Iowa State University Agricultural Engineering and Agronomy Research Farm near Boone, Iowa.

Mobility Soil Bin

  • Consists of soil-processing carriage (tilling, compacting and leveling) to create controlled soil testing bed (loose to compact conditions). Artificial soil mix medium mimics cohesive-frictional natural soil behaviors.
  • Provides studies of soil-to-wheel/track interactions, including effects of wheel load and tire inflation pressure on traction forces, soil deformation and soil compaction.
  • Equipped with two sensor systems (S.W.I.F.T. and pan-cake six-axis load cell transducers) to measure tire forces and moments. Sensors measure position and velocity carriage and testing tools.
  • Real-time LabView control systems to conduct vertical load, position and wheel rotation controlled tests.
  • Tire/track tests can be conducted in towed free-rolling and powered states at various slip (velocity reduction ratio).

Blade Soil Bin

  • Similar to the mobility soil bin, soil bed can be created at different compaction levels and uniform profiles.
  • Instrument to measure soil forces (bulldozing and cutting) for different tool (blade rake angle, soil load response) configurations.

Circular Soil Bin

  • Investigates controlled wear characteristics of soil engaging tools in real-time.
  • Consists of abrasive medium materials (gravel, steel-beads) to accelerate wear of low stress.
  • Ability to monitor wear properties using 3-D scanning and image analysis tools with procedures developed at Iowa State.

Possible Tests

  • Tires and tracks from off-road equipment (mobility soil bin).
  • Performance measurement of attachments on off-road equipment (blade, tire, shoes).
  • Tillage and construction equipment (ripper points, sweeps, harrows).

Benefits to Industry

  • Agricultural and construction equipment manufacturers.
  • Technology and sensor development innovation companies for terrain mapping from tire-soil interactions, tire advanced features (for example, central tire inflation systems).


The Soil-Machine Dynamics Laboratory is located at the ISU Agricultural Engineering and Agronomy Research Farm, southeast corner of U.S. Highway 30 and U Avenue. Program your navigation system for 1308 U Avenue, Boone, Iowa.

For More Information

Mehari Tekeste
(515) 294-2464
2331 Elings
605 Bissell Rd
Ames, Iowa 50011