Harvesting season is just around the corner and farmers near and far are already hopeful in anticipation of their crop yield. Harvest season is busy and before it’s even done you will likely already be thinking about improving on next year’s crop.
You will find yourself quickly analyzing every tool you used and each decision you made, trying to find where you can improve.
What’s one of the best places you can start improving?
It may seem simple but the soil is made up of many different complex components that make it incredibly powerful in your ability to produce a good crop.
The Components of Soil
Soil is made up of many different minerals that help promote plant health.
Some of the key minerals include carbon, calcium, manganese, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, and sulfur.
2. Organic Matter
3 to 5% of soil consists of organic matter. It is derived from dead and decaying plants and animals. It contributes to soil nitrogen, phosphorous and sulfur.
Water acts as a solvent and carrier for plant nutrients. Just like all animals, microorganisms require water for their metabolic processes.
50% of soil volume consists of pore spaces filled with air and/or water. Gases found in soil air include oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water vapor.
5. Soil Microorganisms
Soil microorganisms include bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, arthropods, nematodes, and worms.
What Makes Healthy Soil?
Healthy soil is vital to ensure both high yields and future high yields, as well as environmental protection But what is healthy soil?
There are five main factors that impact the health of the soil which include:
- Soil structure
- Soil chemistry
- Organic matter content
- Soil biology
- Water infiltration, retention, and movement
Soil that has a combination of these factors will be considered healthy and produce a healthy crop. Soil that is lacking in one or more of these areas isn’t considered healthy and could be impacting the quality and quantity of your crop.
Structural problems in your soil can come from compaction, plow plans, or waterlogging. These structural issues often have a domino effect that leads to all other factors of soil health being negatively impacted.
How Can You Prevent Compaction?
Compaction is a growing problem in farming, especially as modern farming equipment has gotten heavier. As machines move across farmland, the soil is pressed down. This damages soil structure, decreases pore space, limits water holding abilities, and impedes root development.
While improving soil health can help combat compaction, the most effective defense is to reduce compaction altogether. This can be achieved through Pipe Ag’s smart farming capabilities.
In addition to tracking combine capacity, grain cart weights, and truck locations, Pipe Ag utilizes modern GPS and satellite technology to create compaction maps. This allows farmers to keep their equipment on the same paths, greatly reducing compaction and protecting their soil.
The harvest season poses the biggest threat of compaction, especially if the ground is wet. Combines and grain carts move across the soil over and over, pressing it down and disrupting the structure. However, 80% of the damage a grain cart does to soil happens in its first pass. If additional passes are made across the same lane, little additional compaction occurs.
This means that farmers should try and keep their tractors and grain carts operating in the same lanes as much as possible.
To utilize Ag Technology and compaction mapping this harvest season, check out Pipe Ag today.