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FACT SHEET Agriculture and Natural Resources The Biology of Soil Compaction

By James J. Hoorman, João Carlos, Moraes Sá and Randall Reeder


Soil compaction is a common and constant problem on most farms that till the soil. Heavy farm machinery can create persistent subsoil compaction (Hakansson and Reeder, 1994). Johnson et al. (1986) found that compacted soils resulted in: (a) restricted root growth; (b) poor root zone aeration; and (c) poor drainage that results in less soil aeration, less oxygen in the root zone, and more losses of nitrogen from denitrification. Subsoil tillage has been used to alleviate compaction problems. Subsoilers are typically operated at depths of 12 to 18 inches to loosen the soil, alleviate compaction, and increase water infiltration and aeration. Subsoiling usually increases crop yields but the effects may only be temporary as the soil re-compacts due to equipment traffic. Some no-till fields never need to be subsoiled

Year: 2011
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