The Surprising Link Between Compaction and Nutrient Deficiencies

Concerned about soil compaction? You’re not alone. Soil structure and health is increasingly on farmers’ radars for very good reason —  the more researchers uncover about soil, the more links we have connecting soil quality to everything from crop yield, to nutrient run-off risks and erosion problems.

Big pit

Can you spot the plow pan?

The unfortunate thing about compaction, says Jodi DeJong-Hughes, is that fields are at highest risk at field capacity — about the time they’re drivable after rain. DeJong-Hughes, with the University of Minnesota’s extension team, spoke at CropSphere last week in Saskatoon, and shared real-world strategies for first how to avoid compaction, and then how to try and fix it after the fact.

Related: A quick and easy way to gauge soil health

In the interview below, DeJong-Hughes highlights the many faces of compaction, including nutrient deficiencies in crops due to stunted root growth, and runs through the ways to avoid it. She also discusses why deep ripping CAN be used to rectify compaction that has already occurred, but only under certain circumstances and settings. All that, below.

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