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The Keys to Managing Soil Density

November 12, 2010
By: Margy Eckelkamp, Director of Content Development, Machinery Pete

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In Episode 3 of Corn College TV, Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist Missy Bauer uses the corn field as her classroom. With soil density pits, Bauer explains the three keys to managing soil density.

The keys are:

  • How well are the roots going down?
  • Water movement through soil profile
  • Plantability and ear count.

“You want to look how the roots have grown through the soil profile,” Bauer says. “If they turn at a sharp angle, that’s a sign there’s a significant change in density layer.”

She says the goal is to have even soil moisture through the soil profile, which helps with water movement.

“Capillary movement is how water moves through soils. Texture and pore size of the soil will influence water movement, but man-made density changes also are a factor,” she says.

Then evaluate your seedbed.

“How good a seedbed you have is the final measurement. Even if you have even density below the seedbed, it will be working backwards,” she says.

“Think about your tillage systems, it’s doing to roots, what it’s doing to water movement and what it’s doing to ear count,” she says.

Learn more in Episode 3 of Corn College TV.  

Episode3 HeadtotheField

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