Beneficial Management Practices: Environmental Manual for Crop Producers in Alberta - Soil Compaction

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 Soil compaction is the reduction of pore space due to equipment and animal traffic. Compaction can develop in any soil type. Because of low porosity, compacted soils are less permeable to air and water. Plant roots have difficulty penetrating the soil, resulting in restricted root growth, reduced nutrient and water uptake, and lower yield potential. Compacted soil is also slower to warm in the spring and more difficult to till.

Wheel traffic can result in increased compaction, especially on wet soils.
Courtesy of AgTech Centre - ARD

Factors affecting compaction:
  • Wet soils can be compacted more easily than dry soils.
  • Medium and fine-textured soils and soils low in organic matter are easier to compact.
  • Frequent tillage increases compaction.
  • Frequent wheel traffic and animal traffic increase compaction, especially on wet soils.
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This document is maintained by Jennifer Rutter.
This information published to the web on November 1, 2004.
Last Reviewed/Revised on October 30, 2017.