Our Agronomy Series is designed to help you Be Ready for the upcoming growing season. We’re fortunate to have some great resources within Case IH who are anxious to assist you. Dr. Rob Zemenchik, Sales and Marketing Manager for Case IH Tillage Products, is a trained agronomist and is our guest blogger this week. Here, he discusses how to measure for soil compaction to help you properly set your tillage equipment in the spring.
After a big harvest, it’s important to know the level of soil compaction in your fields. By taking a little time to measure compaction before planting, you can set your tillage equipment at the right depth to maximize plant growth throughout the season.
Excavate along a soil profile pitwall and you’ll see the different levels of organic matter. With the use of a simple pocket knife, you can assess rooting patterns, evaluate the condition of your soil and look for the presence of compaction, which is the root-limiting layer.
First, insert your knife into the soil wall well below the surface and gently pull up. When you start to feel excessive firmness, you know where the compaction layer begins. Use a measuring tape from that point up to the soil surface to determine the depth level. You can use this as a reference point to choose the depth of your tillage equipment machinery in the field.
The same process is used from the top-down: insert your knife at the top of the soil and gently push down. When you start to feel the firmness, you’ve identified a potential hard-pan layer. You may have a decent seed bed, but not necessarily an ideal root bed.
You also want to look at how level your surface is, and the individual clod size output left behind the machine after the first tillage pass. One of our goals is to have no clods that are bigger than 6 inches in diameter. Years of research and millions of manually collected data points have shown us that clods larger than 6 inches can put emergence of seedlings at risk in the spring.
We understand the importance of managing soil compaction – it’s all part of helping you Be Ready to meet the needs of a growing population. We invite you to learn more about our Case IH in-line rippers and other tillage products. For a more detailed explanation of the steps outlined here, see our seed preparation video.
How do you measure soil compaction, and what steps are you taking to control it? Let us know!