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.
4. Clay soils are more easily compacted than coarser soils.
Answer: False. Clay soils are no more vulnerable to compaction from traffic than lighter soils, Reeder says, contrary to earlier theories. However, soils with a high proportion of clay tend to have poor internal drainage and are apt to stay wet longer than coarse, sandy soils, Duiker says. And wet soils are easily compacted.
On all soil types, compaction increases soil bulk density, and past a certain level, restricts root growth, Duiker says. That level differs with soil texture. For example, the ideal bulk density for clay soils is smaller than for loamy or sandy soils, which have larger particles and bigger pore spaces, compared to fine-textured soils.
Penetration resistance is another way to measure the effects of soil compaction on root growth. Regardless of soil type, root growth begins to decrease with penetration resistance of 100 psi, and stops completely at 300 psi. Try to keep penetration resistance under 200, DeJong-Hughes says.
Regardless of soil type, root growth stops completely when soil penetration resistance exceeds 300 psi, as in these wheel tracks.