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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Raper, Randy

Submitted to: Southern Conservation Tillage Systems Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/28/2006
Publication Date: 6/28/2006
Citation: Raper, R.L. 2006. In-row subsoiling southeastern soils to reduce compaction and improve crop yields. In: Proceedings of the Annual Southern Conservation Tillage for Sustainable Agriculture Conference, June 26-28, 2006, Amarillo, Texas.

Interpretive Summary: Decreasing soil erosion and improving the water quality of southern waterways has been important to producers in this region for many years. However, compacted soil profiles in this region limit root growth and often reduce crop yields. Deep tillage (subsoiling) is the most effective method of immediately reducing the ill effects of soil compaction. Two problems result from the use of subsoiling, however, and must be addressed before it can be used in a sustainable conservation agriculture system. They are (1) excessive soil surface disturbance which can lead to increased erosion and (2) excessive tillage energy necessary to disrupt the compacted profiles. This paper includes an extensive literature review of numerous studies conducted in the Southern U.S. that illustrate the proper procedures for maximizing benefits and reducing the costs of subsoiling.

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, and consideration of other methods of compaction reduction, including the use of a cover crop. Use of these methods should allow in-row subsoiling to continue to be a valuable part of conservation agricultural systems.

Last Modified: 05/26/2017
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