Seedbed Preparation

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Seedbed Preparation procedures depend on soil texture and the desired change in the size of aggregates. In soils of coarse texture, tillage will increase aggregate size, provided it is done when only the small pores are just filled with water; tillage at other than this ideal moisture will make for smaller aggregates. By contrast, fine-textured soils form clouds; these require breakage into smaller units by weathering or by machines. If too wet or too dry, the power requirements for shattering dry clods or cutting wet ones are prohibitive when using tillage alone. Thus, the farmer usually attempts tillage of such soils only after a slow rain has moistened the clouds and made them friable.

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Some soils require deepening of the root zone to permit increased rate of water intake and improved storage. Unfavorable aeration in zones of poor drainage also limits root development and inhibits use of water in the subsoil.

Tillage, particularly conventional plowing, may create a hardpan, or plow sole; that is, a compacted layer just below the zone disturbed by tillage. Such layers are more prevalent with increasing levels of mechanization; they reduce crop yields and must be shattered, allowing water to be stored in and below the shattered zone for later crops.

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