Submitted to: Resource Magazine
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 1999
Publication Date: July 1, 1999
Citation: Raper, R.L. 1999. Penetrating the problem. Resource Magazine. July 1999. Interpretive Summary: Soil compaction may quietly rob producers of valuable profits. A quick and easy method of determining if soil compaction is a problem is by using a soil cone penetrometer. This standardized measurement device can produce data which can be analyzed for excessive values that may indicate soil compaction problems. A tractor-mounted multiple-probe unit, developed at the NSDL, has been used with good success to diagnose soil compaction problems in many Southern soils. The use of this measurement tool in NSDL research offers a quick and easy method of determining soil loosening benefits of tillage and conservation systems that conserve soil and water resources.
Technical Abstract: The most common method of diagnosing soil compaction is through the use of the soil cone penetrometer. Many different kinds of penetrometers are available ranging from simple hand-held models with dial gauges to tractor-mounted devices with automatic recording capability of force, depth, and spatial position. Shortcomings of each design are presented along with the potnetial benefits of the tractor-mounted unit. This unit, which was developed at the NSDL, allows multiple readings to be obtained rapidly across the row from up to five soil cone penetrometer probes during one insertion. Data from the multiple-probes can be post- processed into iso-contour lines which show the depth, width, and degree of soil compaction present in the soil.