Soil Compaction Considerations

Soil Compaction

Ideal composition of soil is 50 percent soil solids, 25 percent water and 25 percent air. Compaction results from the loss of pore space between soil particles. Soil structure is altered when forces such as harvest equipment traffic compresses soil. Ruts form when there is not enough soil structure to support the weight of harvest equipment. Compacted soils have reduced space for soil air and water which greatly limits or precludes plant root growth and development.

With a variety of weather conditions experienced this fall, some rut formation and soil compaction resulted. In some case where soil is dry, tillage can break up compaction, but tilling wet soil will only exacerbate the issue causing additional compaction. According to University of Minnesota research, subsoiling does little to positively impact yield responses. Deep tillage (greater than 18 inches) is capable of shattering hard pans created by wheel traffic, but it has not been proven to increase yields consistently or for a long period of time.