Conservation Tillage Systems in the Southeast

Summary

Overview

Even though it is possible to subsoil a field to remove compaction, exercise care before performing this expensive operation. Use a soil penetrometer to determine when and where subsoiling is needed. Subsoiled soil easily re-compacts with vehicle traffic. Research indicates that two passes of a tractor in the subsoiled area will cause the soil to return to the level of compaction prior to subsoiling [6]. Use controlled traffic because traffic can compact soil and quickly undo the positive effects of subsoiling. When traffic was not controlled for five years, plots that had initially been completely disrupted were re-compacted as if they had never been subsoiled [20]. If traffic is controlled, however, the benefits of subsoiling to crops and soils can be long lasting.

This brief review proves that in-row subsoiling can loosen compacted soil profiles, increase infiltration, reduce runoff and, in many cases, increase crop yields throughout the Southeast. However, in-row subsoiling is an expensive field operation requiring large amounts of fuel. Following the energy conserving suggestions is this chapter can reduce the energy needed for in-row subsoiling by as much as 54 percent, based on cost information from 2011.

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