CONTRARY TO popular belief some soil pans can be useful, says independent consultant Gordon Spoor.

Pans 20-40cm (8-16in) down can help protect subsoils from further compaction, he told last week’s IAE conference.

“Providing roots and water can get through, then look at them as an advantage. The last thing we want to do is really disturb the pan.”

But growers must be sure that crops are rooting below the pans by digging test pits.

When tramlining, intermittently dropping seed rather than completely blocking off coulters, could also benefit soils. The extra vegetation would help control water erosion, but still leave visible tramlines.