By Sjoerd Duiker, Penn State soil management specialist
If fields are compacted this fall due to the wet conditions, there are some different strategies that can be taken to correct the problem.
If no ruts are seen, it is probably not necessary to do tillage. Instead, plant a cover crop to use the living root system to alleviate compaction.
Ruts need to be smoothed out to be able to plant the next crop successfully, however. If ruts are uniformly distributed across the whole field, some type of tillage may need to be done on the whole field. In many cases, however, ruts are localized and only need localized repair.
Remember the negative consequences of tillage. It will be necessary to till deeper than the depth of compaction. Shallow “vertical tillage” tools that only do tillage in the top 4 inches will not be sufficient to manage soil compaction.