Poor soil physical properties that limit water movement, root development, and soil aeration are believed by many to be a continuing barrier to increased crop yields. Soil conditioners supposedly modify the soil environment providing benefits such as improved water infiltration, decreased soil compaction, improved soil structure, and improved crop yields. This study was undertaken to determine the effects of a soil conditioner, ammonium laureth sulfate, and two levels of vehicle compaction on several of these properties. There were no statistically significant effects of ammonium laureth sulfate on soil water infiltration, soil penetration resistance, soil bulk density, soil water content, nor crop yields. Additionally, there were no interaction effects of the soil conditioner with the level of compaction caused by vehicular traffic. However, increased trafficking did cause increased soil compaction with resultant significant effects on penetration resistance, soil bulk density, soil water content, and soil water infiltration. For the short term, there seems to be no benefit associated with using the ammonium laureth sulfate conditioner. Studies of the longer-term effects of this conditioner on soil properties and yields for various locations and soils may be warranted. Presently, farmers are advised to concentrate on more traditional methods of maintaining a favorable soil environment for crop growth. Soil compaction can result because of vehicular traffic, and farmers should be aware of the possible detrimental effects on soil physical properties and resultant yields.
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