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Rather than causing major compaction concerns, Lloyd Murdock credits long-term no-till with being able to solve many of your more troublesome soil worries. That’s what the University of Kentucky soil scientist learned from a recent 5-year study that looked at no-till and soil compaction as reported in a recent Soybean Digest article.
While some farmers have felt that you get just as much compaction in no-till as with conventional tillage, the Princeton, Ky., based researcher says you can’t expect to rely on tillage to overcome compaction concerns. In fact, tillage often makes compaction worse.
With heavy traffic under wet conditions, Murdock says no-tilled soils are much more resistant to compaction and rebound more quickly than where conventional tillage is used. The reason is that no-till increases soil organic matter dramatically, which increases the number of earthworms that tunnel throughout the soil. In addition, no-till increases many other valuable soil biological activities.
Since soil pores in no-tilled soils aren’t destroyed by tillage, Murdock says the result is improved soil structure with continuous no-till. In fact, no-tilled soils become strong enough to reduce crushing, which can lead to excessive compaction. Since no-tilled soils are firmer, they can also carry heavier equipment loads when compared with conventional tillage without resulting in costly compaction.
In Murdock’s study, some soils were severely compacted to a depth of 12 inches while others were left untouched. In the compacted plots, the soil was disced to remove compaction to a depth of 6 inches. However, the…