Addressing Soil Compaction - Agrii - Connecting Agri-science with farming

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February 12, 2014

Addressing Soil Compaction

There is much growers across the UK can do to combat the soil compaction problems that seriously reduce yields, increase tillage energy, time and costs, and exacerbate run-off and flooding, according to Professor Dick Godwin of the Soil & Water Management Centre at Harper Adams University sponsored by Agrii and other partners.

“Pressure has the greatest the influence on the degree of compaction and load influences its depth,” he stressed at the Bishop Burton Conference. “So, better choice and use of tyres and tracks is vital.

“Employing the latest tyre technology can have a major impact on reducing working time and fuel usage as well as soil damage; as can the correct inflation pressures. After all, an axle weight of 10t at a pressure of 2 bar exerts less than 3 bar of pressure on the soil at 250 mm while 5t at a road inflation pressure of 7 bar creates well over twice this. Equally a 33 t tracked combine has a similar impact on soil deformation at this depth to a wheeled machine a third of its weight.

“It‘s also well worth considering the use of controlled traffic which is showing an improvement of around 20% in winter wheat yield in the first year of the studies at Harper Adams,” he added.

In relieving compaction, Professor Godwin explained that winged sub-soiling tines offer major advantages over simple ones, giving both a larger area of disturbance and better soil loosening. This can be increased still further for a similar draught by adding shallow leading tines.

“It’s crucial sub-soilers are set up and operated correctly to deliver the right degree of soil working,” he insisted. “As a general rule, simple tines should be spaced at 1.5 times the depth of working, winged tines at twice the depth and winged tines with shallow leading tines 2.5 times.”