Soil Compaction – Is this affecting your profitability?

Check For Compaction
At each stopping point, take a spade and dig out a square clod of earth. Drop this onto the ground and vertical fissures should appear. If the ground is compacted, then only horizontal fissures will be seen. In winter, also look out for especially wet areas.
Identify Focus For Improvements
Review your assessments to identify where there is the best potential to make improvements to grassland quality and/or quantity. Include consideration of the age of the ley: quality and dry matter yields deteriorate as leys get older. And read on for help and advice on best practice grassland management. How much is weed? Ryegrass has a distinctive purple base of stem.  What’s the potential to improve?
Resolving Poor Drainage
Soil can become waterlogged through poor drainage. Typical signs are ponding, discoloration of the grass and poaching. Ensure field ditches are clear so water does not back up, and repair broken field drains. Poor soil structure is the most common cause of waterlogging and reduced growth, and different problems require different treatments, as follows.
Breaking Up Surface Capping
Surface ‘capping’ is caused by large amounts of rain puddling the surface together and preventing air interchange with the roots. It is best alleviated using a slitter. The knife blades typically penetrate up to 125mm deep to improve water and air movement.
Removing Compaction
Compaction under grassland occurs in light and heavy soils alike. Sub-soiling removes compaction so water can move freely down the soil profile, allowing air interchange through the structure. It also improves the ability to travel on land earlier in the spring, promotes earlier growth, and hence allows earlier turnout or silage making. Livestock themselves cause shallow soil pans 100-150mm deep simply through the pressure exerted by hooves or poaching when animals are left on grass in wet conditions. Compaction from machinery damage, as frequently found in silage fields, is deeper at 200-275mm. Assess what type of compaction the field is suffering from, then subsoil 50mm below the pan using a sward lifter. Working the ground any deeper just uses more diesel and takes more time. Is standing water due to poor drainage or compaction? Aerating the ground using a sward slitter combats surface compaction Sward-lifting removes compaction without damaging the ley.

Please contact Tim on 07803618754 to book in a visit to do a soil compaction study in your farm