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Corny News Network

8 May 2019
URL: http://www.kingcorn.org/news/articles_19/SoilCompaction.html

Soil Compaction: The "Gift" That Keeps on Giving

R.L. (Bob) Nielsen
Agronomy Dept., Purdue Univ.
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2054
Email address: rnielsen at purdue.edu
Twitter: @PurdueCornGuy


Soils in Indiana have been too wet for field work almost since last fall. What I mean by "too wet" is so wet that the soils would not even support the weight of the field equipment without creating ruts or the equipment literally getting stuck.

The short term weather forecasts hint that some drying may finally occur over the next couple of weeks. If or when that happens, the pent up energy from delayed spring field activities will explode and there will be a "tsunami wave" of tillage, herbicide application, fertilizer application, and, of course, planting activities, some of which will occur on soils that are technically not yet "fit" for field work. The consequence of working or planting soils that are "a bit on the wet side" is that such field activities can create varying intensities and depths of soil compaction.

The problem with soil compaction is that, at the time we create it with our field operations, we are not totally aware it is happening. Oh sure, the thought might cross our minds that the soil is "a bit on the wet side", but the reality of a late planting calendar often overwhelms common sense. And, after all, the rest of the growing season may turn out so perfect that there will be minimal effects of soil compaction on the crops....... Which often turns out to wishful thinking.

The potential consequences of soil compaction can haunt a crop the entire growing season and result in serious yield losses by the end of the season due to:

The references that follow are excellent backgrounder pieces about soil compaction, how to avoid it, and what to do about it once you've created it.

Related reading

DeJong-Hughes, Jody. 2018 (reviewed). Soil Compaction. Univ of Minnesota Extension. https://extension.umn.edu/soil-management-and-health/soil-compaction [URL accessed May 2019]

Jasa, Paul. 2019. Avoiding Sidewall Compaction at Planting. CropWatch, Univ Nebraska Extension. https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2019/avoiding-sidewall-compaction-planting [URL accessed May 2019]

Duiker, Sjoerd. 2005. Avoiding Soil Compaction. Penn. State Univ Extension. https://extension.psu.edu/avoiding-soil-compaction [URL accessed May 2019]

Duiker, Sjoerd. 2005. Effects of Soil Compaction. Penn. State Univ Extension. https://extension.psu.edu/effects-of-soil-compaction [URL accessed May 2019]

Dyck, James. 2017. Soil Compaction: Stay Off the Field Until the Soil is Ready. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. http://fieldcropnews.com/2017/05/soil-compaction-stay-off-the-field-until-the-soil-is-ready [URL accessed May 2019]

Al-Kaisi, Mahdi. 2019. Spring Planting and Wet Soil Management. Iowa State Univ Extension. https://crops.extension.iastate.edu/cropnews/2019/03/spring-planting-and-wet-soil-management [URL accessed May 2019]