soil compaction n.
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  2. What is Soil Compaction • What is soil compaction? • Compaction occurs when a force compresses the soil and pushes air and water out of it so that it becomes more dense. Compaction is more severe when the soil is wet and less able to withstand compression.

  3. Soils tend to be most easily compacted when the soil water content is near field capacity. As the growing season nears its end there is the potential for heavy vehicular traffic from operations such as silage, forage, and grain harvest, and tillage and manure application

  4. Soils tend to be most easily compacted when the soil water content is near field capacity. As the growing season nears its end there is the potential for heavy vehicular traffic from operations such as silage, forage, and grain harvest, and tillage and manure application

  5. Why should I worry about it? Compaction is a concern because it affects plant growth. There are not enough pores or spaces in compacted soil to allow unrestricted root movement, infiltration, drainage or air circulation. The restricted roots are often unable to take up sufficient water or nutrients from the soil. The result is less plant growth and lower yields, particularly during periods of drought.

  6. Large spaces in soils are known as macro pores and are created by plant roots, burrowing creatures and shrinkage caused by the drying of wet soil. Macro pores are usually continuous and form “highways” for air and water to travel deep into the soil. These pores determine the soil’s physical and soil biological quality. Macro pores are the most vulnerable pores to soil compaction because when the tractors or animals are on top of the soil its going to fill in the bigger spaces first.

  7. The loss of macro porosity and pore continuity reduces strongly the ability of the soil to conduct water and air. This leads to run-off and eventually flooding.

  8. Where does soil compaction occur? • Soil compaction occurs anywhere and everywhere. • It will occur in your front yard, in your landscaping, in your tobacco crop, and many other places.

  9. When does soil compaction occur? Soil compaction occurs when soil particles are pressed together, reducing pore space between them. Heavily compacted soils contain few large pores and have a reduced rate of both water infiltration and drainage from the compacted layer.

  10. Raindrop impact - This is certainly a natural cause of compaction, and we see it as a soil crust (usually less than 1/2 inch thick at the soil surface) that may prevent seedling emergence. Rotary hoeing can often alleviate this problem.

  11. Tillage Operations- Continuous moldboard plowing or disking at the same depth will cause serious tillage pans (compacted layers) just below the depth of tillage in some soils. This tillage pan is generally relatively thin. It may not have a significant effect on crop production, and can be alleviated by varying depth of tillage over time or by special tillage operations.

  12. Wheel traffic - This is without a doubt the major cause of soil compaction. With increasing farm size, the window of time in which to get these operations done in a timely manner is often limited. The weight of tractors has increased from less than 3 tons in the 1940's to approximately 20 tons today for the big four-wheel-drive units. This is of special concern because spring planting is often done before the soil is dry enough to support the heavy planting equipment.

  13. Minimal Crop Rotation- The trend towards a limited crop rotation has had two effects: 1.) Limiting different rooting systems and their beneficial effects on breaking subsoil compaction 2.) Increased potential for compaction early in the cropping season, due to more tillage and field traffic.

  14. Effects on Plants and Crops • Equipment and tillage effects the soil structure, which is important because it controls the soils ability to maintain a equilibrium for water, nutrients, and air. All of these are needed for plant root activity • Ideal Soil- roughly 50% soil particles(minerals and organic matter), 25% air space, 25% water

  15. Advantages • Speed up seed germination because it allows for better contact between seed and soil • Mild to moderate compaction can prevent water from leaching through and provide new seed with moisture to germinate • New corn planters have been modified with rollers to moderately compact soil after planted

  16. Advantages • Increase root branching and secondary root development because more nutrients closer i.e. phosphorous-non moving nutrient • Reduces settling, increases stability • Helps prevents against soil settlement and frost damage

  17. Disadvantages • Makes soil harder for roots to explore through, limiting nutrient intake • Effects plants water flow and storage-very important for plants • Erosion • Surface wetness is greater and takes longer time to dry • Decreased plant yields-damage to above ground parts of plants

  18. Disadvantages • Creates unfavorable growing conditions for roots and restricts oxygen, water, nutrient supplies • Increases dependence on mechanical figures • Increases density, carbon dioxide amounts-toxic to the plant, increases heat build up • Winter-kill can occur in spring due to trapping in colder temperatures from winter season • Do not effect plant roots directly, but indirectly

  19. Erosion

  20. Ways Erosion Happens • Water • Wind

  21. Ways to Prevent Erosion • Reduce soil compaction • Vegetation • Avoid growing crops on fields with steep slopes.

  22. Erosion

  23. Erosion

  24. Why Soil Erosion is a Problem • Removes topsoil • Loss of natural nutrients • Loss of fertilized soil • Loss of seeds or plants • Loss of organic matter • Pesticides and fertilizers could possibly be washed into water supplies.

  25. Study on erosion • Table 1. Corn and soybean yield loss in severely eroded soils compared to slightly eroded soils in • three studies in Indiana.

  26. Where can soil erosion happen? • In fields that have slopes or that are in low areas. • In fields where the soils are compacted • On athletic fields where they have compacted soils and poor drainage • On golf courses in the bunkers and around the cart paths.

  27. Problems due to compaction • Bulk Density is increased in compacted soils • Water infiltration and percolation is decreased which can lead to standing water on the turf and cause disease to turf • In the winter compacted soils may hold more water which can cause turf to come out of dormancy much slower because wet and damp soil warm much slower than dry soils

  28. Problems • Oxygen Diffusion Rate is reduce in compacted soils • Decreased microorganism activity • Root growth can completely stop or reduced greatly • Turf establishment rate is greatly reduce • Turf wears much faster

  29. Symptoms of Compacted Soils • Turf develops a shallow root system • Yellowing of turf • Turf stand can start to thin out • Weed growth and disease

  30. Bulk Density

  31. Effects of a compacted playing surface • Two most important factors in athletic fields are how hard the surface is and its level of traction it provides to the athletes • Compacted soils reduce athletic playing ability • Increases the chances of a player getting injured

  32. Appearance of Turf

  33. Fixing and Preventing Soil Compaction

  34. Soil compaction • Soil compaction can be difficult and expensive to fix once it exists. • Best method is to do preventative maintenance • On turf fields aeration and topdressing are used • In agricultural fields minimized traffic from heavy machinery and utilization of weight distribution techniques can be used • No-till farming and varying conventional tillage practices can also help

  35. Aeration Aeration opens the soil and helps the soil “breathe” easier and makes for healthier turf. • Two basic types of aeration • Core Aeration • Solid Tine Aeration • When to aerate • Spring and Fall are ideal for core aeration • Summer • There are other benefits to turf from aeration other than reduced compaction

  36. Topdressing Topdressing adds a thin layer of soil or a prepared soil mixture to a turf grass area • Topdressing keeps the holes made in aeration open • Best to match texture of topdressing material with existing soil • Both aeration and topdressing can temporarily reduce turf quality • Repeated topdressing, in conjunction with aeration, has other benefits

  37. Agricultural Fields • Subsoil compaction • Reduce load • Increase number of axles • Surface compaction • Reduce tire pressure to minimal allowable pressures • Using tracks or duals to replace singles • Using larger diameter tires to increase length of footprint

  38. Agricultural Fields • Avoid tillage of wet soils • Keep equipment sharp • Vary depth of primary tillage from year to year • Combine field operations to reduce traffic • No-Till • No plow pan that can be caused by conventional tillage equipment • Cover crops used in no-till help reduce soil compaction

  39. Existing Compaction • Subsoiling • Results may be temporary • Add organic matter • Increases fertility and biological activity • Introduce worms to the soil • Worms do be beneficial when added to soil with mulch

  40. History • Since the 1800’s when Benjamin Lincoln stated that he had noticed a large decrease in plant production and growth from letting livestock wander and graze • Horses pulling carts and wagons • Increasingly getting worse with heavier machines and farming equipment being introduced

  41. References •​sec11f.cfm • • American School & University, Sep99, Vol. 72 Issue 1, Sports Field Management Guide p14 • •