No. 6 — April 29, 2019

Tips to Minimize Soil Compaction During Spring Spraying Events

Continued rainfall events have resulted in saturated soil conditions across most of Missouri vineyards. Many vineyards may be nearing the end of the first or second cover spray of fungicide an another cover spray will need to be applied. Taking heavy equipment such as tractors and airblast sprayers onto saturated soils causes the collapse of soil aggregates. In turn surface soil becomes compacted, rutting occurs and the subsoil becomes compacted.

Soil compaction reduces water infiltration, root development and is known to reduce yield in row crop grains such as corn and soybean.

To minimize soil compaction during spraying

  • Reduce the amount of spray solution in the sprayer tank. This will reduce the amount weight on the axles but increase the amount times you must mix fungicides. If you have a smaller tractor that has the horsepower capacity to operate your sprayer consider using a smaller lightweight tractor.
  • Adjust tire air pressure on your sprayer to match the axle load. Larger tires with lower air pressure provide more surface area and reduce pressure on the soil surface.
  • Depending on your soil conditions and vineyard site, you may need to consider applying fungicides using an alternate row cover. Meaning you spray every other row. If considering alternate row cover, make sure to adjust your sprayer nozzles, baffles, fan speed to provide coverage to the distant vineyard rows. Be aware that there are risks involved in alternate row cover such as poor coverage. I do not recommend alternate row cover sprays precisely because of poor coverage. However with ponding water in some vineyards this may be your only choice in some areas where water is ponding.

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