Vehicle impact analysis using vehicle tracking systems on military lands

N. G. Svendsen, D. J. Koch, G. Z. Gertner, H. R. Howard, P. D. Ayers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the impacts of military vehicles on the landscape have been studied extensively, research has not looked at full-scale multi-vehicle events to estimate land disturbance. Currently, the military extensively uses live and simulated training to prepare troops for combat, and these systems can provide data for accurate determination of the land disturbance patterns resulting from training activities. This article examines a full-scale multi-vehicle event and determines the total moving-vehicle disturbance (event-based impact). It provides a methodology for using in-field simulation and training systems to generate information on vehicle mobility impacts. This article illustrates how such information can be used to determine changes in the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) C factor for areas of disturbed land. For land managers, the major benefit of this approach is rapid identification of locations that are intensely used and therefore subject to land degradation. Additionally, this approach provides a means to readily quantify those impacts as related to vegetation removal and erosion potential. To illustrate this approach, 84 military vehicles were monitored at Orchard Training Area, Idaho, in August 2008, and 592,132 data points were collected to measure distance traveled, average velocity, and turning radius at 1 s intervals. The data were then processed and mapped to ascertain the impacts on vegetation and potential changes in the C factor. Results indicated that vehicles spent 15.9% of the time and 5.9% of the distance traveled off-road. The vegetation removal rate ranged from 0% to 48%, and the cumulative area of vegetation removed was 156,424.9 m2. Future work in this area should focus on developing vehicle impact models for forecasting land disturbance regimes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1865-1872
Number of pages8
JournalTransactions of the ASABE
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2017


  • Environmental impact
  • Impact
  • Modeling
  • Off-road vehicles
  • Soil erosion modeling
  • Vehicle
  • Vehicle tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Food Science
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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