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Soil crusting and emergence problems

How crusting happens

Crusting happens when rains breaks down soil aggregates into particles that cement into hard layers at the soil surface, when it dries rapidly. In soils that haven’t been seeded, the crust prevents further soil drying by sealing off the underlying soil from the air.

The crust also reflects sunlight, in effect insulating the soil and maintaining cooler soil temperatures. This further slows drying.

How to break crusts

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David Franzen, Extension soil scientist, North Dakota State University

Reviewed in 2018

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