The Agronomists, Ep 1: Peter Johnson and Marla Riekman on soil compaction


It’s time for our premiere episode of The Agronomists! This hour long, prime-time live show will run every Monday evening and be full of commentary, insight, and likely a few laughs.

For this first episode, we kick things off with Peter “Wheat Pete” Johnson, RealAgriculture agronomist, and Marla Riekman, soil specialist with Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development. The two, plus host Shaun Haney, tackle the tough questions about compaction, including if freeze/thaw cycles help, and how to avoid it. (Summary is below the video).

Don’t miss The Agronomists, Mondays at 8 pm Eastern on your favourite social media platform!

  • Tomatoes thrown at Marla? Nah. But compaction is a controversial topic
  • What triggers these tomatoes? How do you truly stop compaction? Not get on the field in the first place, and NO ONE wants to talk about that.
  • Mother Nature is continuously throwing a wrench at us
  • Video: Marla Riekman on compaction
  • How to minimize compaction? Grain carts are an option that have come up…BUT they’ve gotten bigger and bigger. Controlled traffic as an option?
  • Western Australia gets 8 to 10 inches of rain. Compaction restricts root growth. Practical reality.
  • Does a hard frost play into compaction? Old wives tale or not? Frost really only impacts the top layer and limited freeze/thaw cycles in the west
  • 80 per cent of total compaction happens on the first pass!
  • Zero-till doesn’t necessarily mean you are combating compaction. There are still tires driving across the field!
  • Video: Looking at soils with Curtis Cavers. We all love a good soil pit!
  • Canola can put a fair amount of pressure into the soil
  • Calcium and Magnesium levels? How does that impact compaction?
  • “It depends.” That’s a great question, but where do you farm? It all plays into it.
  • Video: Mattias Stettler, innovate farmers field day with Wheat Pete. Expert from Switzerland
  • Tile drainage. How does this play into compaction? Management after the tile drainage installation is SO important.
  • Tire pressure is HUGE. The tire pressure that is rated for the road is different than what is rated for your field
  • Tillage at different depths. What fits into your farm? Be strategic with your tillage.
  • Pete gets itchy when he talks about tillage. But still — we make him talk about it!
  • Cattle and other livestock play a part, too! The “axle load” on cattle is not very heavy… it’s surface compaction, not deep compaction. So still not bad!
  • There is long term yield loss from compaction. What you do now and what decisions you make can impact 20 years down the road.
  • Don’t forget about sidewall compaction, too. Go when the soil is fit.

Wake up with RealAgriculture

Subscribe to our daily newsletters to keep you up-to-date with our latest coverage every morning.

Wake up with RealAgriculture

Please register to read and comment.


Register for a RealAgriculture account to manage your Shortcut menu instead of the default.