Every time you set foot — literally — in your fields, you compact the soil. Imagine the compaction your fully loaded combine caused as it crisscrossed a too-wet field last fall. Keep in mind the threat soil compaction poses to yields and know how to combat it.
Nearly every field operation causes soil compaction. Rainfall causes surface compaction (crusting). Over time, its cumulative effect is perhaps the most yield-limiting factor in crop production. University of Wisconsin researchers say soil compaction can reduce yields by as much as 50 percent. It does so by:
- Reducing water availability
- Limiting nutrient uptake, especially nitrogen and potassium
- Inhibiting plant growth — including root penetration — and yield
- Delaying planting and other field operations because of wetter, colder soils
Many steps can help prevent — or at least slow — soil compaction. These include varying tillage depths from year to year, increasing crop rotation, rotating in more taproot crops and staying off of fields that are too wet. Among the most recommended preventive practices is controlling traffic. During a growing season, up to 90 percent of a field can be tracked by equipment. Managing wheel traffic with the Case IH Advanced Farming System (AFS) can pinpoint traffic to as few paths as possible, from tillage to planting to spray applications to harvest.
You also can manage wheel traffic by reducing the number of wheels. Industry-leading track technology from Case IH, including the Steiger® Quadtrac®, Steiger Rowtrac™ and Axial-Flow® tracked combines, deliver exceptional performance in independent-track technology. Last year, Case IH introduced the Magnum™ Rowtrac™, which pairs the flotation and traction advantages of tracks with the maneuverability of traditional row-crop tractors.
When it comes to breaking through compaction, turn to our innovative Tiger Points — then lift, twist and roll. Thanks to the Case IH agronomic design of Tiger Points, the 23-degree, downward-, rearward- and outward-swept wings do more than just cut a slot in the compaction layer. They:
- Lift. The tip starts the fracturing by lifting the compacted soil.
- Twist. The front area of the wing starts the twisting action, which relocates soil layers and prevents immediate recompaction.
- Roll. The back of the wings and the shank finish the job by rolling the soil to incorporate fertilizer and residue.
With Tiger Points, the turbulent lifting-and-twisting action below the soil surface aggressively fractures compaction for maximum air and water penetration and minimal runoff. Visit the parts counter at your Case IH dealership to learn more.
Soil compaction deserves your attention. If you are seeing it in your fields, take steps to reverse the trend. Breaking through compaction requires time, commitment and patience. Now is the time to get started.