At winter meetings for Indiana farmers this year one agronomist is spending a lot of time on compaction problems and how compaction reduces yield. The Director of Agronomic Services at Seed Consultants, Bill Mullen, says 3 years of compacted soils will negatively affect yield for up to 16 years.
“And a lot of people don’t realize that. The bottom line with compaction is it’s a yield robber if it’s not taken care of in the right way.”
Some farmers proactively spent time addressing compaction last fall with tillage or cover crops. Mullen says you should work on alleviating compaction this spring too.
“We know compaction can carry over from one year to the next over a period of time. We need to maybe go back in our notes and look at our yield monitor and look at those red spots for yields. If that can be explained that we had some issues with compaction, then when it’s dry, go out there with some early tillage and try to break that up. I guess the other thing is that decision of when we plant. We want to plant when the soil conditions are right. That doesn’t mean when the soils are tacky or wet, because when we start doing that, that’s when we’re starting the compaction for that crop for this year all season long.”
Also, for best management of weeds, Mullen is a strong proponent of spring burndown with residual control.
“We’ve got to do a better job trying to control these weeds. Yes it’s going to give us a little more cost per acre, but if we have an effective burndown with a strong residual program, pre-emerge, university data has shown that is going to be so much better than burndown by itself or no burndown whatsoever.”
Mullen says this year’s seed is very good quality compared to the previous year, and there are still very good yielding hybrids available at Seed Consultants.