Subsoiling: When to do it and What to Expect

Low maintenance, hard wearingDeep soil compaction has always been a problem ever since heavy farming equipment like combined harvesters and tractor-drawn farm implements came into play. Even though most crops can make do with compacted subsoil, a wide variety of plants that send roots deeper than 10 inches before maturity will always have a hard time flourishing in farms with compacted subsoil.

An excellent way to tell if your farm is suffering from the compacted soil before bringing in deep tillage equipment is by checking your soil profile.

Checking Your Soil Profile

The easiest way to check your soil profile would be by using a soil auger that can burrow as deep as 14 inches. Since very few farmers have such equipment lying around, chances are you will have to dig a pit and observe the soil yourself.

  • Using a hoe and a shovel, dig a square hole that is at least a foot wide
  • Sink the hole to a depth of around 18 inches
  • Carefully observe the soil from the eighth-inch mark looking for any unusual compaction
  • For better results, you can dig the hole next to deep rooting plants like the canola plant
  • If the plant’s roots grow sideways after a couple of layers, you will have to deep till your farm

What to Expect During and After Subsoiling

Deep tilling or sub-soiling is time-consuming and expensive. You will not only need the right tilling equipment set to around 13-inch tilling depth but also need a powerful tractor.

In most cases, a 350 horsepower tractor moving at 3 or so miles per hour should do the trick. You will need a lot of patience and dedication to finish your sub-soiling.

Don’t expect miracles after deep tilling. Even though your crop yield will go up, you will have some trouble handling the farm especially because your farm machinery will sink deeper or have difficulty navigating the now loose uncompacted soil.