Testing if the Soil's Right to Rip - The Hand Roll Test and Soil Investigation

Investigating the soil is very important for two main reasons:
    1. To determine if there is a compacted layer and how deep it is.

    2. To determine if the soil is too wet or too dry to deep rip.
The best way to understand your soil is by digging a hole and doing a few quick tests. Check the soil in the hole at different depths for moisture content and compaction.

The 'Hand Roll' Test for Soil Workability

This is a simple test to determine whether your soil is in the right condition to deep rip. Take a handful of soil from different levels in the hole and work it to an even consistency. Then attempt to form a sausage about 3-5mm round by rolling the sample between your palms.

Photograph of a palm displaying a well-formed, thick roll of soil.

When the soil is too wet for tillage a 3mm thick sample roll will easily form.


Photograph of palm displaying a rolled lump of soil that is breaking up into short lengths.

At the optimum moisture content the soil sausage will crack and break into short lengths.



If the sample crumbles, the soil conditions are still OK for deep ripping, however power requirements and soil shatter will be high. The soil may also be left in a cloddy state.


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