With the harsh winter cold prevailing all over the country, melted snow and wet soil are bound to result in pesky compaction issues. Soil compaction deteriorates the quality and structure of the farm’s soil, which then affects crop health and yield potential.

Reduce soil compaction through no-till farming

Naturally, farmers who practice no-till farming will find themselves in an advantageous position. No-till fields are more resistant to soil compaction than deep-tilled or subsoiled fields. However, if you can’t jump on the no-till wagon just yet, there are other ways to address this problem.

Six top tips to reduce soil compaction

1. Implement controlled traffic

Create designated paths for heavy equipment on your farm. When you limit the areas where farm equipment is driven year after year, you protect a big chunk of your fields from compaction.

2. Watch out for unnecessary tractor weights

More often than not, you might be operating a tractor that’s heavier than necessary. For instance, extra ballast attached for tilling may be removed if you’re merely pulling a planter.

3. Plant cover crops

Cover crops do a lot to protect and enrich the soil on your farm. Keeping plants growing year-round ensures that the soil structure and organic matter levels are always in a viable state.

4. Switch to bigger tires

As the area of contact between the soil and farm equipment increases, the pressure on the soil decreases. This makes switching to bigger tires beneficial. If you can do so, adding more tires will greatly help, as well.

5. Check tire pressure

If you can’t switch to bigger tires nor add additional ones, checking your tires’ current pressure can help, too. Overinflated tires have a smaller footprint, which is one culprit of soil compaction.

6. Improve surface/subsurface drainage

If the surface and subsurface drainage on your farm is below optimal, consider taking steps for improvement. This will help the soil dry out faster—something that’s especially important as the snow melts—ultimately reducing the risk of soil compaction.