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Alleviate compaction to reduce yield losses

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

As a result of the wet spring weather there was a great deal of variability in corn and soybean fields in 2019. Early rainy weather caused wet soil conditions early in the growing season, flooded areas of fields, and resulted in fields that had to be replanted. Although in many cases the saturated soil conditions stunted crop growth, in some cases compaction is to blame. Field work this spring when soils were too wet or “marginal” created yield-limiting shallow compaction, smearing of the seed furrow, etc.

In the 2012-01 issue of the C.O.R.N. Newsletter Randall Reader and Alan Sundermeier state that “Years of OSU Extension research on Hoytville silty clay loam showed that through compaction, 10% to 15% of the potential crop yield was being left in the field.” Horizontal root development and poor root development in general are indications of soil compaction. Sidewall compaction greatly limited root growth in some fields this year. Crop growth problems above ground such as stunting or Sudden Death Syndrome in soybeans can also be clues that compaction exists. In areas of fields where these symptoms existed this year, growers should determineif they have compaction and alleviate it when soil conditions allow for field work this fall or next spring.

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