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Compaction’s Effect on Soil Health

Wet soil combined with large equipment mean soil compaction, and it’s been an issue of concern for John King, general manager of grain and forage division for Rupp Seeds.

With the wet spring and having to mud the crop in the field, he said farmers have done a number on the soil.

“We flat out have abused our soil this season from the beginning to the end with all the rain,” he said. “Everything we’ve done has caused a lot of compaction, and some of the plant heights are a little shorter than we would expect due to compaction.”

King says soil compaction can cause many issues, including diseases, and it’s important to keep aerobic movement through the soil.

“Nutrient uptake is inhibited by compaction—it’s slower to take up the nutrients, roots don’t have the ability and the freedom to move throughout the soil structure,” said King. “Soil structure is absolutely critical.”

To keep from exacerbating the problem this fall, King suggests minimizing your trips in the field during harvest, and fall tillage to help for the coming spring.

“There’s a number of things that we can do to start working on the impact from the things we’ve done in trying to produce a crop this year—getting down to a depth where we work on that layer of compaction,” said King.

As harvest is ongoing for many in the state, he encourages everyone to stay safe.