Impacted root growth is showing up in Manitoba crops this year.
Marla Riekman is a Land Management Specialist with Manitoba Agriculture. She said this is particularly the case around the headlands and approaches of fields where soil compaction is most prevalent.
"With corn it's really easy to see because we end of having this purpling of corn. And corn can purple for a lot of different reasons but in the case of compaction, it looks like a phosphorus deficiency but it might just be that the roots aren't getting to find the phosphorous if there is enough."
When it comes to soybeans, because the plant has a slightly larger diameter root compared to things like wheat and canola, it's impacted when those large pore spaces are crushed down, explained Riekman.
"They can't move easily through those pore spaces and all the little ones are left behind and they can't move through the soil very well," she noted. "And so then you have poor rooting, you may end up with poor nodulation as a result, and all those things can potentially lead to poor yield."
Riekman added the highest risk of compaction comes during moist soil conditions and, should producers find themselves in this scenario, urged them deal with tire pressure on machinery like making sure they are run at the rated pressure and are not over-inflated. She noted that the weight of equipment, as well as the amount of traffic, on the field is also something to think about.
"Axle load can drive compaction up to three feet down into the soil, so that is potentially a big issue especially with the coming harvest. To be bringing large grain carts across the field, that weight can cause a lot of problems."
Riekman said farmers may also want to think about driving down the same path every now and again.
"They say eighty per cent of compaction happens in the first pass," she noted. "So given that, we want to be a little bit more deliberate in planning in terms of how we travel across a field when we're in that high-risk, moist situation."
She was asked to compare the use of tires versus tracks on equipment.
Riekman added that there has been some talk this year of using sub-soiling to resolve compaction.