It's a generic question but was wondering if there is a threshold level of soil water beyond which planting a crop (for e.g. soybean) can be hindered because the soil is too wet or flooded.

As a background, for a given location, I have the soil water content coming out of a water balance model. In a real world, how much excess soil water compared to field capacity would ideally prevent planting of crops.The reason I am asking is because I am making a model on planting days where a day is classified as 'no planting' given excess water in the soil.

Please advise.

Thank you.


Adding to this, my water model generates soil water content and surface runoff as well

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    $\begingroup$ Is your concern about water content of soil more about the negative affect of excess water on the seeds/seedlings or the ability of the wet soil to support heavy farm machinery during planting, or both? $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 16:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The second. I am more interested in whether wet soil would be able to support heavy farm machinery during planting. $\endgroup$
    – 89_Simple
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 16:40
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    $\begingroup$ If that is the case you need to factor in the mechanical properties of different soil and the type of equipment used. For example, controlled traffic systems run the equipment down precisely the same tracks between rows so those become compacted and you don't have tractors trying to slog through the turned soil. $\endgroup$
    – haresfur
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 22:35
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    $\begingroup$ I doubt you can find a general value. See for instance "rice paddy", or consider that in California, rice fields are flooded and then seeded by airplane: riceassociation.org.uk/content/1/14/… $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 5:30
  • $\begingroup$ Okay. Yes that is correct. Some crops would require more water like paddy which is flooded. What if I am talking just about soybean $\endgroup$
    – 89_Simple
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 9:37

1 Answer 1


In practice you really don't want to plant a field that is even close to capacity. Doing so will result in ruts, soil compaction, breakdown of soil structure and a large increase in fuel consumption.

One of the advantages of zero tillage systems is the ability to get out on the field in wetter (earlier in spring) conditions. All those roots help reduce the sheering between soil particles.

  • $\begingroup$ Plant roots also need to breath if the soil is saturated the roots essentially suffocate. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 18:18

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