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Subsoiling Can Alleviate Compaction Issues

In the Midwest, research on subsoiling (tillage deeper than 10 inches) has shown few positive yield responses. Research done at Ohio State University by Randall Reeder showed a positive reaction for subsoiling compared with chisel-plowing compacted soil, but not compared with continuous no-till. However, you shouldn’t rule out subsoiling.

“If you are going to change your management and try controlled traffic or really look at tire pressures and axle loads, then get rid of the compaction you have and start fresh,” says Jodi DeJong-Hughes, an Extension educator at the University of Minnesota.

Before you do any subsoiling, first make sure that you have a compaction problem. “Are visual crop symptoms consistent with past wheel traffic?” asks DeJong-Hughes. “Is there standing water after a rain that also shows a pattern consistent with wheel traffic?”

Second, make sure the soil is dry when you subsoil and that the shanks you are using fracture to the depth of the compaction layer.

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