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Although soil compaction can occur at anytime, the harvest season and fall tillage activities often bring more wheel traffic to the field. To avoid soil compaction and the resulting yield loss compaction can cause in future crops, it is important to understand what causes soil compaction and take the measures necessary to manage compaction on your land.

Contact pressure causes compaction in the topsoil zone, whereas axle load causes compaction in the subsoil zone. Axle loads should be below 6 tons to avoid subsoil compaction. 

Compaction within the topsoil region can result in yield reductions for 5 to 10 years after the compaction occurs. However, within the subsoil zone compaction causes permanent yield loss. Subsoil compaction should be avoided at all costs as it is not corrected by the freeze - thaw cycle or any form of deep tillage. 

Strategies to Reduce Topsoil Compaction

 

 

source credit: Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences 

"Avoiding Soil Compaction" by Sjoerd Duiker