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Dig Into Soil Density with Missy Bauer

November 21, 2010
By: Margy Eckelkamp, Director of Content Development, Machinery Pete

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In Episode 5 of Corn College TV Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist Missy Bauer uses the principles provided by the Systems Approach to build strong soils for root growth. The Systems Approach breaks down the production puzzle into smaller manageable segments, and at the base of the Systems Approach pyramid is soil density.

“It’s important to know how to identify a soil density problem and to know the difference between soil compaction and a soil density layer,” Bauer says.

She explains that compaction is when soil particles are flattened by wet tillage or wheel tracks. Soil density describes the air space between the soil particles, which changes by soil type.

Roots naturally grow at a 35 to 40 angle down through the soil.

“Roots can’t handle a sudden change in density from compaction,” Bauer says. “When roots hit a layer, they will turn to grow horizontal.”

To learn more about the conditions in our field, Bauer says head to the field with either a soil penetrometer or a soil rod to get a good idea of what is going on below the surface.

“You can measure the pressure on a gauge or just by feeling the change with the rod,” Bauer says. “Or dig a soil pit across at least of a couple of rows in your fields.”

Learn more in Episode 5 of Corn College TV. 

Episode5 soildensity

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