Managing Soil Crusting Issues

  • Jun 06
    Chuck Belanger
    Managing Soil Crusting Issues By Chuck Belanger on June 6, 2014
    Categories: Field Care, Soybean

    In areas where rainfall amounted to 1 to 3 inches in a matter of minutes, there is a possibility of crusting. We need to be proactive in watching our crop. Seed is very resilient and vigourous this time of year, so it will remain healthy under the crust and will definitely push through if the soil remains moist. What do we do if Mother Nature throws us a curve ball?  Iron (machinery) may be the only answer.  

    There are a several types of machinery that will do the job. I am only making recommendations of what I have seen work in the past.

    Rotary Hoe

    Already I can hear everyone saying, “I have used a rotary hoe in the past, and it was a waste of my time”. I agree that it can be hit or miss, but, if used at the right time, it works wonders. This goes back to my earlier comment, “Let’s be proactive!” There is a 2 day window to use this piece of iron; timing is very important.  I had a grower share some interesting advice: He pulls the hoe with a 2 inch offset and set fairly shallow, as not to disturb the soil too much. Pulling it offset helps in creating drag, therefore breaking the crust. Give it a try!

    Planter or drill

    Many get back in with their empty planter or drill and set it shallow so that they are only scratching the surface and breaking the crust.  This works extremely well and can be used in sections of the field, rather than the complete field.  This option gives you a larger window of opportunity to get the job done in time to help the crop through the crusting surface.

    RTS or equipment similar

    I do not have a lot of experience with this piece of machinery in a crusting issue, but I am being told that it does a great job. Once again, it is all in the setting. We only need to set it shallow enough to break the crust. Take the time and check how it is performing and re-adjust if needed. If anyone has any experiences they want to share, reply to me by email (chuck@maizex.com), and I will share it with the rest of our customers.

    In conclusion, no one likes to replant; planting once is enough for anyone.  I realize with a couple of the options, we may be on the land in unfavourable conditions, however, the loss we may suffer due to crop damage is a lot less than being too late! Please remember we have had a great year for soybean sales at Maizex. Replant seed will be very short, if not impossible to find. Let’s all do our part in helping the crop through the crust if we need to. 

    Chuck Belanger, Maizex Seeds Yield Specialist, North Essex and South Chatham-Kent Counties
    Twitter: @sprayman63