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A problem I am seeing in numerous fields with sandy soils in north Alabama is a soil compaction zone two to three inches deep and crop roots not able to penetrate it. They were jay rooting when they hit it and their shallow root systems took a bite out of yields. Some of the poor yields were exasperated by these shallow root systems in last year's drought. Growers in conservation tillage fields can easily dig up crop roots to see if their crops are suffering from this jay rooting.
Retired Alabama Extension crop specialist Charley Burmester noted this problem in the past and suggests that growers rip underneath the row at least six inches to break this compaction zone. This will allow roots to explore deeper for moisture and nutrients. Deep-rooted winter cover crops, such as tillage radishes, may also helped break this compaction zone.\
Alabama Regional Extension Agent
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