The Discrete Element Method (DEM) for describing the action mechanism between soil and sweep tool can be used to perform a detailed analysis of draft force, soil cutting, clod-crushing and loosening by taking into account the tillage speed and the three soil phases. This study describes the simulation of the 3D DEM soil model and a cultivator sweep digitized with a 3D scanner, showing the soil—sweep interaction as a function of implement draft force and implement operating speed.
The suitability of the model is validated by comparing the results of laboratory and simulated shear tests (static validation) with the results of soil bin tests (dynamic validation). The mechanical parameters of the sandy soil used for the soil bin tests were measured using the direct shear box test. Cohesion for the soil model used during simulations was set using the parallel bond contact model, where the determining factors were the Young modulus for particle contact (Ec) and bonding (Ēc), the Poisson’s ratio (nu), the normal (σ) and shear (τ) bond strength and the radius of the related volume (cylinder). Once the DEM model parameters were set, the draft force values measured during dynamic testing were harmonized using the value for viscous damping (ci).
The dynamic soil—sweep model was validated using the viscous damping applied based on the simulated and measured draft force values. The validation of the Young modulus to 0.55e6 Pa (Kn = 1.73e4 N/m, Ks = 8.64e3 N/m) enabled us to set the draft force values of the model for different speeds (0.8–4.1 m/s) with an accuracy of 1–4%.
During the analysis of changes in tillage quality, the developed dynamic soil—sweep model showed a high degree of porosity (48%) due to grubbing in the attenuated speed range (0.5–2.1 m/s), and a decreasing tendency (0.41–0.39%) in the non-damped speed range (2.1–4.1 m/s). After the initial equilibrium state, the ratio of average particle contacts for the given porosity decreased in the attenuated speed range (coord number: 4.8), and a slight decrease was also found above speeds of 2.1 m/s (coord number: 5.2). In the model, clod-crushing was examined based on the ratio of sliding contacts, and we found a continuous increase (sliding fraction: 2–15%) in the speed range used for the simulation (0.8–4.1 m/s).