Soil Investigation - Looking for Compaction

Soil investigation is a preliminary task critical before any tillage operation. The primary reason for deep ripping is to loosen compacted or panned soils. So before ripping check for compaction and pans by digging a hole.
  • Dig a hole about 30cm deep and note the ease of digging.
  • Extract an undisturbed slice of soil and break the slice vertically, looking at pores and particle sizes and shapes.
  • Compare the compacted slice with an uncropped slice of the same soil type. Note any differences and decide whether compaction exists.

Compacted or Friable?

Compacted soils have various characteristics such as:
  • lack of pores
  • few plant roots
  • smooth faced soil particles
  • horizontally layered soil clods
  • hard to dig
Soils that are not compacted have good friable soil structure and many shaped soil particles. They also contain many root and earthworm channels. These soils should be easy to dig.

Photograph of a compacted lump of soil.
Photograph showing a hand breaking up friable soil.

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