The fragipan is formed by a naturally occurring chemical process that creates a cement-like layer in the soil. About 50 million acres in the United States and 2.7 million acres in Kentucky have a fragipan layer in the soil. In Kentucky, this layer is found in silty loess soil types usually between 20 and 24 inches below the soil surface. While it can be found throughout the state, it particularly affects soils and crop production in the Purchase and Green River areas.
“In the summertime, it reduces the amount of water available to a crop, causing corn and soybeans to yield 20 to 25 percent less,” said Lloyd Murdock, UK soil scientist and the project’s principal investigator. “In wheat, the fragipan causes water to build up in the winter and early spring, so it affects root growth and final productivity too.”
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