Improving Soil Structure

There are many soil management practices which can improve soil structure of krasnozems.

Remember, prevention of compaction and puddling is better than cure.

Incorporate pasture into your crop rotation
Pasture grasses have vigorous root systems
which bind particles into aggregates and create
new drainage paths. Vigorous pasture restores organic matter levels and gives a break in crop cycles.
Photograph showing paddock of very green crop pasture.

Grow a green manure crop between cash crops
Lupins, oats or short rotation ryegrass increase soil organic matter in the soil and the roots act as "biological rippers" improving infiltration rates. A green manure crop protects the surface from raindrop impact damage and erosion - "biological insurance".

Photograph of a tractor in paddock.

Retain crop residues
Incorporate crop residues in the soil rather than harvesting or burning.
Photograph of tractor in field ploughing in crop residues.

Deep rip
Compacted soils and plough pans can be deep ripped when moist and friable but not when wet and plastic or hard and dry. Identify the need for ripping first by digging some shallow pits and then use a well designed "winged" ripper.
Photograph of

The history of operations on areas of a paddock will often identify localised soil structure problems. These may have been caused by inappropriate harvesting, trafficking or irrigation operations. Remedial action, such as deep ripping, may need to be undertaken only on badly affected areas - such as headlands, tracks and gateways, rather than the whole paddock.

Prevention is Better than Cure

  • avoid cultivating and harvesting in the wet
  • stand stock off paddocks when raining in winter
  • underwork rather than overwork your soil
  • combine operations in a single pass
  • restrict traffic to designated tracks
  • grow a green manure rather than leave a bare fallow
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