Got Field Ruts?

A light disking might be necessary to smooth out ruts from harvest operations. ( Farm Journal, Inc. )

A wet fall has led to many fields being torn up by harvest equipment in the Northeast and Midwest.

The temptation might be to use deep tillage tools to break up compaction. That might be the worst thing you can do, especially on no-till soils, says Casey Guindon, Penn State Field and Forage Crop educator.

“…no-till soils remain more resilient to surface compaction over the long-term, as long-term no till soils exhibit a higher aggregate stability and are better able to support the weight of equipment,” she says.

Still, you might want to do something to smooth over severely rutted portions of fields. An uneven planting surface next spring is a real challenge in getting an even stand of any crop. “Next year’s yields can be greatly improved by acting this fall. However, it is important to wait until soil conditions are optimum for field activity, or you risk making the damage worse,” Guindon says.

“Skid-loader buckets and other similar implements can be effective in smoothing rutted areas. In fields with more severe compaction, light disking or chisel plowing may be necessary,” she says.

You can read more on amending rutted soils here.

 
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