How to Prevent Caked Soil

Posted by irrigation.education Community on May 29, 2018 11:06:46 AM
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We can learn a lot from our fields. Working with an agronomist is the best way to learn about your soil and crop conditions, and how you can produce the best yields. Here are a few quick tips that you can use to avoid common soil problems, and make your mechanized irrigation more effective.

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On recently planted fields, caked and cracked soil can restrict emergence of seeds, resulting in yield loss. It can also cause poor water infiltration, meaning that water is not reaching plant roots effectively. In some cases, soil caking can be a big enough problem that the field must be replanted.

Caking occurs when water application is too heavy, or when water is applied with large droplets that disrupt the soil’s surface. Water pools in the field when it is applied quicker than the soil can absorb it. Soil particles will then float, and settle on top in a denser structure. Eventually the water absorbs and evaporates, leaving behind caked and cracked soil.

Fortunately, this situation is preventable. Applying water in light passes, or with smaller water droplets, will help the soil absorb more quickly. Small water droplets in light applications have a lighter impact on the soil surface, preventing runoff.

There are many options available for adjusting your water application. You can adjust your sprinkler package to select an application pattern with small droplets, applied closer to the soil surface. Boombacks are another good option to increase the irrigation footprint of your center pivot machine. These improve the infiltration rate of the water applied, preventing water pooling.

Another option is to use faster drive motors on the drive towers so that your machine can use a lower application rate with more passes over the field. To learn more about irrigation solutions, check out our courses on sprinkler selection, boombacks, and X-Tec motors for more information!

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Topics: Sprinklers, Irrigation Solutions, Water Application, Irrigation, Irrigation Management

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