Recently added item(s)
You have no items in your shopping cart.
Personalize your experience with Penn State Extension. Subscribe today!
Save For Later Print
Updated: April 9, 2018
Significant rainfall hit much of the state over the past couple of days causing soils to be saturated or at field capacity. In saturated soils all pores are filled with water, while in soils at field capacity large pores have emptied of water. The critical moisture point for soil compaction is the 'plastic limit', when soil can be easily molded. This is usually a bit dryer than field capacity. The plastic limit is the point when soil is most compactable. You can determine if your soil is at the plastic limit with the clod test - grab a handful of soil and mold it in your hand - if you can form a ball, your soil is at the plastic limit. Soil that is wetter than the plastic limit is sensitive to rutting and pugging. For all practical purposes, if your soil is at the plastic limit or wetter, it is better to stay out of the field. Remember that avoiding compaction is much more effective than causing it and then having to repair it. Here are some other things you can do to avoid compaction: