The term “soil compaction” refers to a change in state of the soil that increases its bulk density. Soil compaction is becoming more and more important due to the fact that:
- Equipment is larger
- Uncontrolled traffic
- Earlier field operations
- Operating on wet soils
Identifying compacted areas within a field with the naked eye is difficult and compaction is a difficult variable to measure from the ground without equipment (eg soil penetrometer) and high labor costs.
If a soil is over-compacted there is significant risk of yield reductions as compacted soils affect both soil and plant growth alike:
|Effects On Soil||Effects on Plant Growth|
Aerial imagery shows subtle patterns of soil compaction that are almost impossible to see from the ground. By comparing patterns of traffic and irregular crop growth, problem areas due to compaction are easily identifiable. In Figure 1 above, the red areas on the north side of the field showed yield losses of 45-65 bushels per acre while the red strip on the east side showed yield losses of 20-30 bushels per acre.
Figure 1 – NDVI showing effects of compaction
The management of compaction is an extremely important factor in whole farm economics and sustainable profitability. To find out more about the utilization of aerial imagery drop us an email or give us a call at (319) 361-7868.