“Crop rotations can go a long way to improving soil structure,” Phillips says, adding that wheat is an excellent crop to add to the rotation. “Small grains have an extensive root system and more organic material. The very extensive and deep roots help put more organic matter into the soil.”

Even mixing in another crop besides corn and soybeans every few years can help. “Soil structure can be recreated through a freeze-thaw cycle, wet-dry cycle or by adding organic matter. That diverse porosity of a soil with good structure is very important, because roots can’t just push through the soil – they grow by moving through its pores. And that can mean a better root system, and in turn a better upper part of the plant.”