Monday, October 4, 2010

Reducing Soil Compaction

While harvest continues with our late crops, the stubble fields are getting attention. The theory is:  Years of farming has left the soil with layers of compaction that need attention.
Farmer Fred has been out with his soil compaction tester to check ground for compaction problems. Think of the dial above as a traffic light. Green means no compaction, we're good to go. Yellow indicates some problem. Red means stop what you are doing and address this problem.
We have learned through years of testing that there are often two layers of compacted soil deep in the ground of GriggsDakota. One at approximately nine inches and one at about fifteen inches.
When we find the layers of compaction, we use the Brillion Zone Commander to loosen the ground.
The shanks can go into the ground about 20 inches, but we know our compaction is shallower than that.
So we pull the deep tiller with the shanks set at about a fifteen inch depth. The deeper the machine digs into the soil, the heavier the pull. Economics dictate that we carefully monitor this to conserve fuel and equipment strain.
As Grandpa Sonny drives up and down the field, he is cutting slots 30 inches apart and 15 inches deep into the compacted ground. These slots allows the soil a breath of fresh air. Water will more readily flow deep into the ground. The roots can then follow deeper into the ground.
The slots are compaction free to a depth greater than 30 inches, which is as deep as we can test. Next season we plan to plant canola on this ground. The canola roots will grow through the slots and in the process loosen all the soil in the field. Our years of experience indicate that we can expect the deep tillage to last for many years. With ever improving farming practices, it may never need to be repeated.

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