Hutton Gives Growing Produce Tips for Reducing Soil Compaction on Farms

Mark Hutton, a vegetable specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and professor in the UMaine School of Food and Agriculture, told Growing Produce there are several methods farmers can use to protect their crops from the harmful effects of soil compaction. Methods include minimizing vehicle and foot traffic in the field, alternatives to conventional tillage or no-till planting. Before farmers move in these directions though, Hutton suggests they determine if the practices will work with the cover and cash crops they plant. “It’s a different way to look at how you’re farming,” Hutton said. “One of the best things to do is to talk to other growers who are doing reduced tillage. Find out their reasons for doing it, see how it fits into their system, and think about how you can make those changes in your own operation. I don’t think these methods are harder or easier than anything else — they’re just different.”