The Agronomists, Ep 56: Jodi DeJong Hughes and Ian McDonald on compaction prevention

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Ruts are compaction we can see, but what about the yield-robbing compaction you don’t see? What can we do to prevent compaction, and how do we manage already-compacted ground?

For this episode of The Agronomists, host Lyndsey Smith is joined by compaction action gurus Jodi Dejong-Hughes, extension specialist with the University of Minnesota, and Ian McDonald, crop innovations specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs.

Summary

  • Is it better to make one, really compacted zone vs. many less compacted rows?
  • Most of the compaction happens in the first pass
  • Just one compaction event can rob yield for a few years, and up to many, many years depending on growing conditions
  • Tires vs. tracks could be its own show
  • So, what can we do about it?
  • Cover crop roots don’t solve deep compaction. A better option: three to four years of alfalfa with a big, strong, deep taproot
  • Ian has a great slide: build soil, bigger tires, lower inflation, technology, et.
  • Smaller but more buggies/carts, bigger tires
  • Central tire inflation: for those big manure tankers, it’s a no brainer. Why don’t we see it on buggies/carts?
  • Jodi’s slides: the tracks are there from the air! In a high-stress year, they will show up
  • Clip: Canola School with Aaron Daigh
  • In the spring, do what you have to for ruts, but remember that deep ripping should be done selectively and only an inch or two below the compaction depth
  • Let’s end with a myth buster: no, freeze/thaw cycles don’t “fix” compaction, as most compaction is down too deep, and we don’t get enough freeze/thaw. Wetting/drying cycles CAN break up some compaction, however.

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