Home Indiana Agriculture News Purdue Crop Chat Episode 17, Is the Soil Fit to Plant?

Purdue Crop Chat Episode 17, Is the Soil Fit to Plant?


Planting season is here and there has been some of that activity in Indiana, but is it the right time, or maybe too early? In the new Purdue Crop Chat podcast, Dr. Bob Nielsen and a special guest discuss fit soils.

Across Indiana much of the state’s topsoil is dry, according to Nielsen.

“The percentage of the subsoil and topsoil that is short or shorter is much higher this year than it was a year ago, so I think it remains to be, maybe a fear monger kind of thing as to whether we’re going to move on into a real drought,” he said. “But nevertheless, we can’t seem to really get rid of those nagging areas of areas that are in the drought categories.”

The latest U.S. drought monitor has parts of the northern third of Indiana abnormally dry, with some pockets of moderate drought.

Dr. Tony Vyn, Purdue professor of agronomy, is surprised just how dry the topsoil is for this point in April. But are soils fit for first tillage operations or planting in no-till and strip till fields?

On the podcast Vyn explains the determination of whether soils are fit for those operations “is what is the status of the soil moisture one inch below the intended depth of that mechanical operation, whether that’s tillage to its 3-inch depth or whether it’s planting to its 2-inch depth.”

Vyn describes his non-scientific, but practical method of assessing soils.

“Remove that drier solid at the top, dig down with a flat spade to one inch below the intended depth of that spring tillage pass or that planting pass,” Vyn explained. “So let’s say you’re going down from 3 to 4 inches. Take an inch of soil at that layer and attempt to squeeze it and to roll it between the palms of your hands. How likely is it that I can form a one quarter inch cigar or one quarter inch worm that is 4 to 5 inches long between my hands?”

If you can form that soil cigar or worm, then the soil is too wet for operations without running the risk of compaction.

Hear the full podcast now on your preferred podcast platform, and it’s available at the Purdue Crop Chat page on HoosierAgToday.com.

The Purdue Crop Chat Podcast is presented by the Indiana Soybean Alliance and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council.