Integrated Crop Management News

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This spring most parts of Iowa have had plenty of rainfall, causing many producers to enter fields at less-than-ideal soil conditions. High soil moisture increases soil compaction caused by field traffic and machinery. Over the past decade the size of Iowa farms has increased, leading to larger and heavier equipment. However, equipment size is only one factor among many causes of the soil compaction problem. Rushing to the field when the soil is wet can increase chances for severe soil compaction combined with the weight of equipment and traffic pattern in the field. Conducting field operations during wet field conditions compounds the amount of compaction occurring. Maximum soil compaction occurs when soil moisture is at or near field capacity (Figure 1) because soil moisture works as a lubricant between soil particles under heavy pressure from field equipment.

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Iowa State University



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