Let No-Till Reduce Compaction

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.

No-Tilling Pluses

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…

To view the content, please subscribe or login.
 Premium content is for our Digital-only and Premium subscribers. A Print-only subscription doesn't qualify. Please purchase/upgrade a subscription with the Digital product to get access to all No-Till Farmer content and archives online. Learn more about the different versions and what is included.

Lessiter frank

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

Top Articles

Current Issue


No-Till Farmer

Get full access NOW to the most comprehensive, powerful and easy-to-use online resource for no-tillage practices. Just one good idea will pay for your subscription hundreds of times over.

Subscribe Now

View More

Must Read Free Eguides

Download these helpful knowledge building tools

View More
Top Directory Listings