What is in this article?:
- How To Avoid Soil Compaction: True, False Q&A
- 2. Topsoil and subsoil compaction have different effects on yield.
- 3. Freeze-thaw cycles alleviate soil compaction caused by machinery.
- 4. Clay soils are more easily compacted than coarser soils.
- 5. No-till soils resist compaction better than tilled soils.
- 6. Limiting axle loads is the key to avoiding subsoil compaction.
- 7. Tracks are better than tires for reducing soil compaction.
- 8. Deep tillage corrects the harmful effects of compaction.
- 9. You need ‘steel’ to alleviate compaction.
- 10. Lowering tire inflation pressure reduces surface compaction.
- QUIZ: Assess your soil compaction risk
Soil compaction is invisible, but its effects are clear to see: cloddy soil, delayed crop emergence, restricted root growth, stunted plants, low water infiltration, poor nutrient uptake and lost yield.
And reduced production isn’t the only penalty. Soil compaction also harms the environment, leading to more runoff and soil erosion.
The threat of soil compaction is far greater today than in the past because of the increasing size and weight of farm equipment. Although the risk of new compaction is low when the soil is very dry – as it is in much of the Corn Belt – existing compaction makes crops more vulnerable to damage by drought.
10. Lowering tire inflation pressure reduces surface compaction.
Answer: True. The lower the tire pressure, the less it compacts the topsoil, says Ken Brodbeck, manager of Original Equipment and Export Sales for Firestone Ag Tires, Des Moines, Iowa. And the larger the tire, the lower the tire pressure needed to carry a given load. A larger tire at a lower psi has a longer footprint than a smaller tire at higher air pressure, which spreads out the load and reduces stress on the soil.
The proper tire inflation pressure depends on the tire size and axle load, Brodbeck says. Adding tires, or using taller or wider tires, reduces the carrying load per tire, allowing lower inflation pressure.
As the tire pressure decreases, so does the load-carrying capacity. Be sure to follow manufacturers’ recommendations so you don’t exceed the load-carrying capacity of the tire at that pressure. Ideally, Brodbeck says, you should run the vehicle over a scale in its heaviest condition to determine the exact weight before setting tire pressures. If that’s not practical, set the air pressure in the tires when the machine is resting on a firm concrete surface. When properly inflated, “one – or no more than two – tread lugs should be touching the concrete,” Brodbeck says.
Tire pressures are set for the heaviest load and road speed, DeJong-Hughes says. The optimum tire pressure in the field may be much lower, she says, but it’s impractical for farmers to change tire pressures for transport and field operations.