Identifying Surface Soil Compaction

December 1, 2009 at 8:30 am 2 comments

The top 6-8 inches of soil are approximately 40% clay, which creates management challenges. Surface compaction in the Van Wert County area is commonly seen, but I would argue that surface compaction only plays a role in harming crop development during the emergence stage of a crop. Once the crop is out of the ground, then surface compaction plays less of a role on restricting crop growth and development other than restricting moisture movement from the surface to the subsoil. Subsurface compaction, on the other hand, can prove to be very detrimental to crop growth and development. Especially if the subsurface compaction creates a nearly impervious layer for roots to penetrate.

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  • 1. Craig Dick  |  December 7, 2009 at 12:20 am


    Enjoy the blog, keep up the good work, however…

    Surface compaction is a very big deal. It reduces water infiltration and increaseing erosion. This also reduces the amount of oxygen that is pulled into the soil after a rain storm, leading to increased CO2 in the root zone diminishing root growth, beneificial microbial activity and decreasing soil pH. A little surface compaction means the farmer has less water to work with and has to add more inputs to grow a good crop.


    • 2. andykleinschmidt  |  December 7, 2009 at 12:37 am

      Hi Craig,

      Thanks for the comment. I tend to believe that surface compaction (0-1.5″) in soils formed from glacial till or lacustrine materials on till plains and lake plains in Northwest Ohio causes less yield loss than compaction that has developed at 6-8″ in the profile on similar soils everything else equal.

      Here is where surface compaction can really destroy yield potential: percentage of plants that emerge following planting. Reduction in emergence, caused by surface compaction (and particularly crusting), can directly and negatively reduce crop yields.

      I appreciate your well thought out comment.



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