Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/15/2006
Publication Date: 2/14/2006
Citation: Raper, R.L., Kirby, J.M. 2006. Soil compaction: how to do it, undo it, or avoid doing it. ASABE 2006 Distinguished Lecture Series. ASABE, St. Joseph, Michigan. Interpretive Summary: Soil which is severely compacted restricts root growth and reduces crop yields. This worldwide problem will continue to be a problem as long as producers must use their soil to support and transport equipment as well as grow crops. This component of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineer’s 2006 Distinguished Lecture Series gives practical solutions and suggestions that producers, engineers, and scientists can use to reduce and manage soil compaction’s effect on crop production systems.
Technical Abstract: Soil compaction reduces rooting, infiltration, water storage, aeration, drainage, and crop growth. Soil compaction has been studied intensively for more than a century and yet, we still struggle with the effect that soil compaction has on crop production and the environment. In this paper, we attempt to present the primary causes of soil compaction including trafficking weak soil, excessive loads, and soils which are somewhat predisposed to soil compaction. We also offer suggestions on methods of alleviating soil compaction which vary gradual improvement using conservation tillage systems to the immediate improvement offered by subsoiling. Additionally, we cover methods that producers can use to avoid compacting their soil, including reducing their axle load, using radial tires and maintaining proper inflation pressure, duals, tracks, and controlling their traffic. Unfortunately, few if any of our suggestions could be used to cure soil compaction because as long as vehicles are used to plant and harvest crops on the same soil that is used to produce crops, there will continue to be soil compaction and an endless battle to reduce the ill effects of soil compaction.