If pushing your clock ahead, a green hue across the pasture or college basketball brackets brings on that familiar spring itch, it’s important to apply the salve of patience before you start scratching your fields. As difficult as that might seem, your soils will thank you — and your crops will reward you.
Anytime you pull into a field, you open the soil to compaction. Using equipment during wet field conditions compounds the amount of compaction.1 Conversely, soil compaction will be less severe when tillage, fertilizer application and planting occur when fields are dry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a helpful guide for using the hand ball test and soil ribbon test to gauge soil moisture levels for various soil types.
When moisture levels reach acceptable levels, look to your tires as the next line of defense against soil compaction.1 Larger tires with lower air pressure allow for better flotation and reduce load on the soil surface. Properly inflated tires also improve operating efficiency. Adding duals or triples and ballasting your tractors also help improve flotation and minimize soil pressure. And, of course, implementing more Case IH track technology across your equipment lineup — from Steiger® and Magnum™ tractors to Axial-Flow® combines and, now, Early Riser® planters — can significantly reduce compaction throughout the growing season.
Using the same wheel tracks and controlling traffic patterns help limit compaction, too, since most damage occurs with the first pass of the implement. This can be accomplished effectively by using implements that are the same width for field operations throughout the season.1 Case IH Advanced Farming Systems (AFS) helps here by giving you sub-inch, repeatable accuracy pass after pass across your fields.
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The final push
As you get to work putting finishing touches on your high-efficiency seedbed, be sure to properly address any residue management issues. Properly sized and evenly distributed residue will help your fields dry and warm consistently, which helps your crops achieve fast, uniform emergence.
If you determine an equipment upgrade could help you meet your goals for timely planting, talk with your Case IH dealer. And if a bigger or more reliable tractor is the way to go, but new isn’t in the budget, consider Case IH Certified Pre-Owned* equipment. It’s a great way to get into the Steiger or Magnum tractor — or Case IH Patriot® series sprayer or Axial-Flow combine — you need to help keep your spring on schedule.
Meanwhile, be patient with your fields. Compacted soils can result in yield losses of 10 to 20 percent.2 Instead, spend a little extra time ensuring your equipment, seed, chemicals and other supplies are set to go. That way, you won’t lose additional time when your fields are fit.
*Case IH Certified Pre-Owned Program applies to late-model (no more than 5 years old) used (i) Axial-Flow combines with less than 1,500 engine hours, (ii) Steiger and Magnum tractors with less than 2,000 engine hours and (iii) Patriot sprayers (3 years old or newer) with less than 1,500 engine hours. See your authorized Case IH dealer for additional details.
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1Al-Kaisi M, Licht M. Soil moisture conditions — consideration for soil compaction. Iowa State University Extension Integrated Crop Management newsletter. http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/icm/2005/5-9-2005/soilmoist.html. Published May 9, 2005. Accessed March 11, 2017.
2Don’t Be Too Eager to Work That Soil! Penn State Extension Start Farming Blog. Penn State Extension website. http://extension.psu.edu/business/start-farming/news/2011/dont-be-too-eager-to-work-that-soil. Published April 7, 2011. Accessed March 11, 2017.