Reduce traffic to prolong ripping benefits
GroundCover™ Supplement Issue: 118 | 31 Aug 2015 | Author: Bindi Isbister
Modern large-scale cropping equipment has axle loads similar to road-making equipment and as such can make subsoils as hard as road base
About 80 per cent of compaction occurs with just one machinery pass, making it easy to undo the benefits of deep ripping within just one season if a controlled-traffic system is not implemented.
Figure 1 (right) shows that deep-ripping and mouldboard ploughing have been highly successful at reducing soil compaction at 20 to 30 centimetres from levels at which root growth would be severely restricted (three megapascals (MPa)) down to less than 1MPa.
However, just one pass of machinery (Figure 1, blue lines) the following season has recompacted the 20 to 30cm of soil up towards 2 to 2.5MPa – a level at which root growth will be slowed by up to 70 per cent and crop access to soil moisture reduced.
With soil compaction now reaching depths that cannot easily be removed (50 to 60cm) and machinery weights increasing every year, it is important to consider preventing compaction rather than curing it.
In sandy soils with less than 15 per cent clay the benefits of deep ripping can last for at least 10 years. However, uncontrolled traffic patterns can quickly remove this benefit, making it important to use controlled-traffic systems to get the full benefits of deep ripping (Figure 2).
More information:Bindi Isbister,
DAFWA, 08 9956 8532,
GRDC Project Code DAW00243
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