The Biology of Soil Compaction


Soil compaction is a common and constant problem on most farms that till the soil. Heavy farm machinery can create persistent subsoil compaction (Hakansson and Reeder, 1994). Johnson et al. (1986) found that compacted soils resulted in: (a) restricted root growth; (b) poor root zone aeration; and (c) poor drainage that results in less soil aeration, less oxygen in the root zone, and more losses of nitrogen from denitrification. Soil compaction is a direct result of tillage, which destroys the active organic matter and a lack of living roots and microbes in the soil. Heavy equipment loads push soil microaggregates together so that they chemically bind together, resulting in soil compaction.

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