Can Your Soil Hold More Water?
Ellen Phillips, Extension Educator – Crop Systems,
Countryside Extension Center, 708-352-0109, firstname.lastname@example.org
This year has been a difficult year for crops as storm clouds
continue to pass over a field without dropping one drop of rain.
There are ways you can improve your soils so that they will hold
more water for your crops.
Retaining a crop residue cover on the surface of the soil will
minimize the formation of soil crusts that can prevent water from
infiltrating into the soil while increasing runoff. Depending
on the percentage of residue, it can also lower the soil temperature
in comparison to bare soils. This lower temperature will reduce
the amount of evaporation from the surface
Incorporating crop residues, cover crops or manure into the soil
to increase soil organic matter, will overtime increase the water
holding capacity of your soil. This organic matter not only absorbs
and holds water it also provides a source of food for soil organisms
that help build soil structure. As soil structure improves, the
infiltration of water into the soil will increase.
Minimizing tillage practices that can potentially compact the
soil will improve the infiltration of surface water into the soil.
Reducing field traffic, particularly when soils are wet is important
during fall harvest operations.