Top 10 Reasons to Avoid Soil Compaction

“Avoid the temptation,” cautions the soil experts. Entering fields at less-than-ideal soil conditions can actually do more harm than good.

Mahdi Al-Kaisi, Iowa State Univeristy associate professor in agronomy with research and Extension responsibilities in soil management and soil science, offers the following reasons to avoid rushing into your fields this spring.

Top 10 Reasons to Avoid Soil Compaction:

  1. Causes nutrient deficiencies
  2. Reduces crop productivity
  3. Restricts root development
  4. Reduces soil aeration
  5. Decreases soil available water
  6. Reduces infiltration rate
  7. Increases bulk density
  8. Increases sediment and nutrient losses
  9. Increases surface runoff
  10. Damages soil structure

Check the moisture profile before rushing into a field, says Al-Kaisi.  Maximum soil compaction results when soil moisture is at or near field capacity because the moisture acts like a lubricant between soil particles that are under pressure from heavy field equipment.

For management tips on how to minimize soil compaction, check out Al-Kaisi’s article, “How and Why to Avoid Soil Compaction.”