Seeing is Believing: See Why It’s So Important to Avoid Wet Soils!

After being cooped up for the better part of the past month, I’m as eager as any farmer is for the spring planting season to begin.  Cold and wet weather in April has delayed planting, but we must remember that all of this moisture helped recharge the soil – and farmland across the Midwest desperately needed that!

The hardest part is going to be waiting to enter fields once the skies clear.  Clear skies and sunshine don’t necessary mean that conditions are fit for planting.  That’s why today I want to take a few minutes to remind you that it’s “worth the wait” to let fields dry before doing any work.

You’ll cause yourself headaches – and your crop problems – throughout the growing season if you try to plant in unfit conditions.  The top 10 reasons to avoid soil compaction include, but are not limited to,: stunted plant growth; slow infiltration of water and/or ponding; high surface runoff and soil erosion under normal or light rainfall; poor root system establishment; and nutrient deficiency.

Compacted fields may experience yield losses of 10% to 20%, according to Iowa State University researchers.

It literally pays to understand and manage soil compaction.  The #1 way to avoid soil compaction now is to wait for the fields to dry.  In a video I made this week, you’ll see how to use a quick field test to check the soil moisture.  You just mold a length of soil between your index finger and thumb, or roll it into a ball in your hand.  Observe whether the soil breaks apart as you work it.  If you toss the ball of soil into the air and it shatters or cracks upon falling to the ground, then conditions are likely suitable for tillage or planting.

For additional tips on how and why to avoid soil compaction, take a few minutes to read these related posts: