Farm machinery can be a boon for the farmer in many respects, but it has a dangerous downside; the way it batters the soil. A new study says that, over the long term, it can exact a heavy toll on the soil’s physical, chemical and biological properties when used extensively.
A researcher in Sweden calculated the weight of a combine harvester and discovered an alarming transition in weight from about 4,000kg in 1958 to around 36,000kg in 2020.
Machine farmers need to be aware of the substantial loss of soil organic matter because of the continuous soil disturbances, which are an inevitable part of the present-day farming system. Not only does the soil become quickly depleted of nitrogen and other minerals as a result of continuous cropping, but at the same time, it loses fertility because of the continuous and disruptive soil handling.
In an interview with a journalist, Thomas Keller, a professor of soil management at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, Sweden, said, “Compaction can happen within a few seconds when we drive on the soil, but it can take decades for that soil to recover,” he suggested that machinery should be designed not exceed a designated weight.