, Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering
This study investigated the effects of farm equipment on the structural behavior of flexible and rigid pavements. The project quantified the difference in pavement behavior caused by heavy farm equipment compared to a typical 5-axle, 80 kip semi-truck. The research was conducted on full-scale pavement test sections designed and constructed at the Minnesota Road Research facility (MnROAD) in the spring and fall to capture responses when the pavement is at its weakest state and when agricultural vehicles operate more frequently The flexible pavement sections were heavily instrumented with strain gauges and earth pressure cells to measure essential pavement responses under heavy agricultural vehicles, whereas the rigid pavement sections were instrumented with strain gauges and linear variable differential transducers (LVDTs). The full-scale testing data collected in this study were used to validate and calibrate analytical models to predict relative damage to pavements. The developed procedure uses various inputs (including axle weight, tire footprint, pavement structure, material characteristics, and climatic information) to determine critical pavement responses (strains and deflections). An analysis was performed to determine the damage to the roadway caused by various types of vehicles when there is a need to move large amounts of agricultural product.