Source: Iowa State University

Normally early spring soil moisture is a challenge when the soil profile is fully charged. Depending on the amount of snow we receive and duration of winter, there is a tendency for producers to enter fields at less-than-ideal soil conditions, especially when there is a short window for conducting field operations.

Soil compaction caused by field traffic and machinery increases with high soil moisture. 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, combined with the weight of equipment and traffic pattern in the field, can increase chances for severe soil compaction.

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 because soil moisture works as a lubricant between soil particles under heavy pressure from field equipment.

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