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Perception of the relevance of soil compaction and application of measures to prevent it among German farmers

Intensive field traffic and high axle loads can lead to soil compaction, with ecologicaland economic consequences. However, the relevance of this issue among practitioners is largely unknown. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the relevance of this issue for farmers in Germany, whether and which mitigation measures are applied to avoid it, and what a (non-)application might depend on. We conducted an online survey among farmers in Germany in winter 2017/2018. For the majority of the respondents, soil compaction is a relevant issue on their own farm, and even at higher share rates, this issue is important for Germany as a whole. To prevent or avoid soil compaction, 85% of the participants apply agronomic, 78% tyre/chassis, and 59% planning/management measures. The farm size, tractor power, working in full- or part-time, estimated relevance of soil compaction for Germany, and the estimated yield loss were positively associated with the application of management measures. The insights gained suggested that more effort is needed to encourage farmers’ perceptions regarding soil compaction in order to generate demand-oriented and practice-oriented recommendations for action for various target groups and thus promote the application of soil-conserving measures on a broad scale.

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