How to deal with soil compaction

The wet weather has caused challenges beyond grain moisture, Mark Hanna wrote in a recent article, Soil Management of Harvest Ruts. Combines working in wet conditions while harvesting are forming significant ruts in the fields. Without interference, this will lead to reduced yields next season. 

Compacted soil created beneath the rut may interfere with subsequent crop rooting and development, Hanna said. Unless they are leveled, ruts deeper than about two inches may also interfere with maintaining seed depth during planter operation next spring. 

Due to the fact that soil must be dry to allow for effective soil shattering, entering the field this fall in wet conditions for deep tilling or tillage of any type will only be counter-productive, creating much deeper soil compaction.

Hanna mentions a good strategy may be to wait until a week or two before planting next spring and use a light tillage pass, for instance with a field cultivator, light disk, harrow, or soil finisher. Waiting until warmer weather next spring will allow for potential drying of the top two or three inches of soil, avoiding further compaction.