Soils susceptible to compaction despite dry conditions

Despite the relatively dry conditions, soil moisture levels are just above normal for the time of year, which means soils are susceptible to compaction according to Teagasc.

It says dry soils give growers more options, but complacency as to the load bearing capacity of soils cannot creep in. Many of the same rules for a wet harvest hold in a dry year. These include:

  • reduce tyre pressures on combines and trailers as much as possible (follow manufacturers recommendations);
  • avoid side filling trailers (especially when nearly full);
  • fit low ground pressure tyres to trailers where possible;
  • use chaser bin (with field tyres fitted) or confine trailers to the headlands;
  • stay to tramlines as much as possible (especially when collecting bales); and,
  • be prepared to check soil compaction following harvest.

Teagasc also highlight the importance of soil sampling it says changing engine oil in a tractor is routine and can save money in the short to medium long term. The same is true for taking a soil sample. The nutrient status of soils need to be checked regularly and maintained up to the optimum level to ensure highest yields.

It says tillage soil test results indicate that only 13% of fields tested have the correct nutrient levels (phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and lime) for maximum crop production. Now is the ideal time to take soil samples from fields that will be planted (OSR/winter barley, wheat) in late August to October. Where soil results show low soil pH levels, apply lime to bring soil pH levels to pH 6.5.

This highlights the critical link between having soil pH at optimum levels in order to increase the efficiency of P fertiliser (available soil P can double where pH is correct).
Where soil P and K are low, apply manures where available; for example, pig slurry/FYM, etc., to build and replenish levels or apply 0’ (0-7-30/0- 10-20/50% K) depending on soil and crop requirements.

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