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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CONSERVATION SYSTEMS RESEARCH FOR IMPROVING ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY AND PRODUCER PROFITABILITY

Location: National Soil Dynamics Laboratory

Title: In-Row Subsoiling: A Review and Suggestions for Reducing Cost of this Conservation Tillage Operation

Authors
item Donoghue, Ann
item Bergtold, Jason

Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 16, 2007
Publication Date: July 30, 2007
Citation: Raper, R.L., Bergtold, J.S. 2007. In-Row Subsoiling: A Review and Suggestions for Reducing Cost of this Conservation Tillage Operation. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 23(4):463-471.

Interpretive Summary: Soil compaction limits the productivity of most soils found in the Southern United States. Periodic in-row subsoiling provides adequate loosening to promote root growth and maximize crop yields. However, the cost of this operation has become even more expensive with rapidly escalating fuel prices. Much research suggests, however, that the cost of subsoiling can be decreased by several methods: proper selection of subsoiler shanks, appropriate selection of tillage depth, operating at the proper soil moisture condition, using cover crops, and controlling vehicle traffic. Use of these methods should allow the conservation practice of in-row subsoiling to be used as a valuable part of an overall conservation agricultural system.

Technical Abstract: In-row subsoiling has been used in the southern United States as a standard production practice to reduce the ill effects of soil compaction. Much of the subsoiling literature from the southern U.S. indicates that significant increases in productivity are found when in-row subsoiling is used, with the most success being found on sandier soils. However, the cost of this operation is relatively expensive and significant gains in crop yield must be obtained to pay for the tillage practice. Much can also be done to reduce the cost of the in-row subsoiling operation. A number of research studies are presented that indicate various methods that can be used to reduce the cost of in-row subsoiling. These methods include: proper selection of subsoiler shanks, appropriate selection of subsoiler depth, appropriate selection of soil moisture for subsoiling, reducing frequency of subsoiling, controlling vehicle traffic, and consideration of other methods of compaction reduction, including the use of cover crops. The fuel portion of the cost of subsoiling is approximately 25% without energy-saving strategies but can be reduced to approximately 16% of the total cost of subsoiling. The estimated cost of in-row subsoiling using data from 2005 can be reduced from $33.52/ha to $29.79/ha which is a savings of $3.73/ha. Use of these methods should allow in-row subsoiling to continue to be a valuable part of conservation agricultural systems.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
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