Soil Structure Update

March 23, 2010

Following the extremely wet harvest and planting in 2007 and 2008 we decided to subsoil (some would say flat lift is a better word) most fields going into wheat or oil seed rape.  This was because the harvesting and planting equipment had caused compaction in the soil structure.  As long as the soil condidions are right when the flat lifting is carried out then the soil should lift and crack, disrupting soil pans and therefore allowing water and root penetration.

Cobb Hill oil seed rape on the 22-9-09 (a month before this test)

However we wanted to see if there was any benefit to the soil structure nearer the soil surface from a pass of the Claydon drill.  Therefore Dr Nancy Oakes and I selected two fields, Cobb Hill and Days Ground which had not been subsoiled.  On the 22nd October 2009 we used a penetrometer to measure the pressure required to push a probe into the ground thus giving an indication of soil compaction.   Cobb Hill had already been planted into oil seed rape resulting in some well established plants.  We tested the pressure inbetweenwhere the drill legs had passed and in the actual seed row.  There is clearly a small reduction in soil compaction in the seed row.  However this result would lead me to mark the field for flat lifting next year.  The results for Days Ground were very encouraging.  The field was being drilled into wheat as we checked for compaction.   The first set of results show a part of the field pre- drilling.  The second set show the exact same spot after the drill had passed by.  There is a notable improvement in soil compaction down to a depth of 25cm.

The full results can be downloaded here.  Penetrometer results October 2009.

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