If you work with turf on athletic fields, you know the problem of soil compaction: bare spots that are ugly at best and which turn into dangerous mud slicks when it rains. Getting rid of compacted soils, "compaction subtraction", or preventing compaction in the first place can be tricky. But with a good maintenance plan and the right products, it's doable. Below are the basic steps to prevent or reverse soil compaction. Some of the steps have been unchanged for years; others involve new products that were not widely available until more recently.
Soil Compaction Basics
When soil is compacted neither air nor water can penetrate the soil, which results in declining turf health and eventual turf death. To increase air circulation in the root zone and to increase water permeability into the soil, you need both mechanical tools and the correct soil amendment and fertilizer products.
Mechanical tools include core aeration and tine aeration. Aerating sports turf after every three events is ideal, but nearly impossible in practice. But for long-term field health and for more durable turf, core aeration is recommend at least once a year and tine aeration at least three times a year.
Product innovations in soil amendments and fertilizers have given turf managers new ways to prevent and reverse soil compaction. Using these products on soils prone to compaction is easy, and does not cause "down time" for sports practice or play.
What are these key products? Two of my favorites are Essential and Liquid Potassium 0-0-25, both of which are the result of Growth Products' 25 year history of technological innovations.