The drought isn’t the only stress facing crops this summer. Field equipment and previous seasons of standing water created areas of compaction in many fields, says Jim Millar, co-owner of precision soil management.
Millar says soil compaction issues this growing season will impact yields next growing season if compaction issues aren’t treated.
The weight of semis and grain carts is exponential compared to what they used to be, which effects how soil particles hold together below the plow layer, says Justin Fruechte, forage and cover crop specialist for Millborn Seeds. Fruechte says that cover crops that form a deep tap root, like radishes, which have been documented to penetrate up to 4-feet into the soil profile helping repair areas impacted by soil compaction.
"We refer to tubular cover crops as bio-drillers. The bulb they form drills into the soil profile, breaking up 8 to 12 inches of soil. Once the bulb decomposes it leaves a 1- to 2-inch diameter hole – perfect for water and nutrient infiltration," says Fruechte, who works with farmers to develop and improve their soil to maximize production and profits.
Millar tests his theory by asking clients to leave a bare strip in the field when they plant cover crops in the late summer.
"They tell me what a pain it is to plant the strip with no cover crops the following spring because of compaction issues," Millar says.
To learn more about how cover crops can repair or eliminate soil compaction issues on your land, contact Justin Fruechte at Millborn Seeds, 888-498-7333.