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Monday, September 9, 2019

Monitoring Soil Compaction During Fall Tillage

written by Eric Redeker

Monitoring Soil Compaction During Fall Tillage

Field preparation and planting conditions were not ideal in Wisconsin this spring. The large amounts of rain left ponding on fields across the state. Many farmers were forced to work wet ground which led to soil compaction.  Soil compaction occurs just beneath the top soil and is caused by standing water, run-off, flooding, and topsoil erosion. It is a serious issue and can have damaging effects on crops if left untreated.  In order to break up compaction layers, subsoiling is essential during fall tillage. Subsoiling breaks up the compaction layer and resets the soil profile, reaching below the compacted layer. Subsoiling leads to soil aeration, increasing drainage and making for better growing conditions. 

As fall tillage approaches, farmers should be sure to check compaction layer depths. One great way to identify compaction zones is by looking for visual cues and using mechanical tools. Visual cues such as ponding water and poor plant development are red flags for compaction zones. A more accurate means to measure soil compaction is with a penetrometer. A penetrometer continually measures the depths of the soil compaction layer. Penetrometers come with all John Deere deep tillage tools to give farmers the ability to continuously check fields as they move across them. This allows farmers to know the exact depth at which to till the soil and ultimately leads to healthier soil conditions.

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