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Agronomic Design Principles: Soil Tilth

Ag_D_Wheel_Soil_Tilth

In the third installment of our Agronomic Design principles blog series, we’re talking about how maintaining proper soil tilth is essential in creating the best possible growing environment for plants.  One challenge to this is moisture control, says Dr. Randy Raper, Professor at Oklahoma State University.

“You want to capture as much of that rain as possible and store it in your soil so that when you do get into the short-term droughts in the middle of the summer, you’ll be able to sustain them,” says Raper.

RandyRaper Agronomic Design Principles: Soil Tilth

Dr. Randy Raper, Professor at Oklahoma State University

What are some ways to retain moisture in the soil? Raper says that by providing good organic matter through the use of a cover crop and minimizing compaction, growers can enhance drought resistance in their fields.

What methods do you use to improve soil tilth?

While Case IH Marketing Manager Ryan Schaefer says compaction is a necessary evil, controlling traffic, utilizing guidance and timing are all key to minimizing it. That’s why Case IH builds its equipment based on Agronomic Design principles that help producers maximize their yield potential, with a prime example being Case IH Quadtrac and Rowtrac technology.

“Our Quadtrac and Rowtrac technology spreads the weight of that high-horsepower tractor over a large surface area so that you have lower ground pressure,” says Schaefer. “That translates into less compaction in the soil, offering producers better soil tilth.”

Compared to the average floatation tire, Quadtrac technology can reduce ground pressure by as much as 50 percent, and Case IH Rowtrac technology by as much as 40 percent compared to row crop tires – making a big difference when it comes to soil tilth.

Steiger Quadtrac Low Res 228x152 Agronomic Design Principles: Soil Tilth

Case IH Quadtrac technology helps growers minimize compaction.

Raper has also seen the difference good soil tilth can make.

“With some of the studies that I’m aware of that we did in the southeast, we found that we had as much as two to three weeks more of short-term drought resistance when we had a good tilth.”

Learn more about maximizing your yield potential and return on investment with Case IH Agronomic Design, and be sure to check back for more installments of Agronomic Design principles.

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  • Mary Gooden12.18.2013 Reply

    Great information !! I bought a ripper last year . We used it before planting corn, early before all..all the rain. There was so much difference in drying out & yield . Do you have any research on ripping before soybeans ??? We notill our soil !!

    • Case IH12.18.2013

      Thanks, Mary! We are working on more Agronomic Design webisodes. Stay tuned!

  • Mike Broyer12.20.2013 Reply

    Informative article and research soil moisture content always important in crop production.

  • Jerry Yeager12.20.2013 Reply

    I have been out of farming for 10 years, and things have changed alot in that time. One thing that has not changed is the need to reduce compaction and addressing it when given the opportunity.
    I recall a field on one of our leased lands that was notorious for wet spots, poor drainage and reduced yields.
    After researching causes I determined that most of the problems in that field and others could be addressed with a deep tillage tool such as a ripper.
    The turn around was dramatic. Yields on that field increased around 20% in the first season after ripping the soil. That showed me that even in ridge land like we have in north central KY, ripping is a practice that is can be a game changer in the right conditions.
    The next lesson I learned was that ripping deeper then the compaction layer (hardpan is what we called it), was a waste of money and time.
    It’s good to see that I was on the right track so many years ago. Now all I need to do is to step back into the fray and get back doing what I loved to do.

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