is part of the Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

  • American Agriculturist
  • Beef Producer
  • Corn and Soybean Digest
  • Dakota Farmer
  • Delta Farm Press
  • Farm Futures
  • Farm Industry news
  • Indiana Prairie Farmer
  • Kansas Farmer
  • Michigan Farmer
  • Missouri Ruralist
  • Nebraska Farmer
  • Ohio Farmer
  • Prairie Farmer
  • Southeast Farm Press
  • Southwest Farm Press
  • The Farmer
  • Wallaces Farmer
  • Western Farm Press
  • Western Farmer Stockman
  • Wisconsin Agriculturist

Compaction measure may be easier

Measuring soil compaction may soon be easier for farmers, according to Agricultural Research Service scientists who are evaluating a new sensor that attaches to a tractor and measures compaction at six different depths as it moves across a field.

Researchers at the ARS Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research Unit in Columbia, Mo., led by agricultural engineer Kenneth A. Sudduth, have designed and are evaluating the sensor.

Compaction is a key factor in soil productivity. Soil has many properties that determine its value for crop production. For roots to thrive, the soil must provide the right amount of water, as well as have good texture and the correct amount of nutrients. The level of soil compaction is equally important. If the soil is too compacted, there will not be enough pores to allow the roots to respire properly. If the soil is too loose, nutrients will leach through the root zone too rapidly and will not be useful to the plant.

Soil compaction is primarily caused by farm equipment traffic. It can vary widely over fields and thus can contribute to different yields in different areas.

Researchers and consultants have traditionally used a cone penetrometer to measure compaction in the field. The instrument is pushed into the ground to measure compaction at a single location. Using a penetrometer to map compaction variations within a field requires a lot of effort. To get an accurate map, the penetrometer data must be collected at many locations. Scientists and farmers would benefit from the new instrument, which is easier to use and gets better results.

Maps of compaction measurements will show the farmer where compaction may be a problem within a field.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.