Deflating Soil Compaction

Technology continues to bring in new ideas to lower negative impacts on soils during crop production. For example, scientists are concerned that the compaction of soil, due to heavy machinery, is taking away the full potential of food production.

In 2011, Ontario hog producer Jake Kraayenbrink won the Premiers Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence, thanks to the technology he developed in response to the problem of compaction.

His company, Agri-Brink, offers a device that can automatically inflate or deflate tires. Softer wheels spread the machine’s weight over more square inches, lessening the compaction of the soil in the tire track. The farmer can easily adjust tire pressure, moving from the fields to the roads without even leaving the seat.

It may take time yet to realize the yield potential of the soils when these types of management practices are used in today’s agriculture, but over time, industry experts believe we will see the proof of their benefits.

He has travelled to Europe with his innovation and has caught the attention of scientists and farmers there, where land is limited. There seems to be less concern in Ontario, but the Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario hopes to change that.

Next week, on September 7, they are hosting a Compaction Action Day in Arthur. Swiss scientist Matthias Stettler will be showing some of his work in measuring compaction from various types of equipment.  Interested farmers can learn more about what they can do to protect their soil. The CFFO is proud to be a sponsor of this event because the federation has historically always been concerned with soil sustainability.

Innovation is an important component for agriculture as it continues to improve and increase food production in the anticipation of a global population of 8.6 billion people by the year 2030 and 9.8 billion by 2050. The number of acres for food production globally does not increase, although there are areas that are underproducing compared to their potential. As these areas improve and other areas increase production, there should be enough food to feed the global population.

However, poor practices in some of the highest production areas of the world must be addressed, and soil stewardship should be of top concern for farmers. Many farmers in Europe have realized that every step to prevent negative effects on soil must be taken and have shown interest in the Agri-Brink invention of tire deflation technology.

Educational days such as the upcoming Compaction Action Day and demonstrations at farm shows, such as Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show, give the opportunity to share knowledge and to improve our management practices in food production. When soil sustainability is at the top of our minds during cropping, soil will continue to feed the people for generations to come.

Paul Bootsma is Field Services Manager for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario.The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXFM Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and UCB Canada radio stations in Chatham, Belleville, Bancroft, Brockville and Kingston.

Posted by Paul Bootsma on September 1, 2017

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