This fall, as you gather your crops, note your observations and collect the data you’ll need to make decisions about next year, it’s important to avoid damaging your fields in ways that can cause long-term losses.
Soil compaction typically gets top-of-mind attention during the spring. But it can be a fall concern, too, especially if the season turns wet. Although getting the crop out is paramount, you can take several steps to reduce rutting and minimize compaction. That’s important, because University of Minnesota Extension research shows yield losses can occur for up to three years after ruts were created, and it can take several years to alleviate subsoil compaction.1
Minnesota Extension specialists recommend these three ways to help minimize soil compaction during harvest:
- Manage axle loads. Axle loads above 10 tons increase the depth of compaction in the soil profile. In wet field conditions, empty the combine grain tank and grain carts before they fill. Use tracks or duals to improve flotation.
- Properly inflate tires. Check with your tire manufacturer to determine the correct inflation. This can help reduce soil compaction and help equipment operate more efficiently.
- Control traffic. Eighty percent of compaction occurs during the first pass through the field, and subsequent passes over the same traffic lanes result in little additional compaction.2 As often as possible, grain carts should follow the same tracks as the combine.
Besides managing your equipment to reduce surface and subsoil compaction, your soil management also affects the ability of the soil to resist and recuperate from compaction.3 Soil tilth, organic matter, tillage practices and cover crops can help maintain a soil structure that better resists compaction. Through the principles of Case IH Agronomic Design™, we offer a full line of equipment and products designed to help improve soil health, reduce compaction and maximize production:
Tillage equipment. From the new Tiger-Mate® 255 field cultivator and Nutri-Tiller 955 strip-till applicator to the True-Tandem™ 335 Barracuda, our full line of tillage implements is designed to help you manage the individual conditions on your farm, from field to field and from pass to pass.
Track technology. Our track technology innovation goes back to 1996 with the introduction of our Steiger® Quadtrac®. We’ve expanded on this with the introduction of the Steiger Rowtrac™, Magnum™ Rowtrac and even a track option on the Axial-Flow® combine.
Advanced Farming Systems. Case IH steering and guidance tools, such as AFS AccuGuide™ for tractors, combines and sprayers, allow you to achieve year-to-year repeatable accuracy from sub-inch levels and beyond to create traffic lanes that minimize compaction.
Talk to your Case IH dealer about how these products and resources can help you more efficiently harvest this year’s crop while setting up your fields for success in the years to come.
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