Pans – layers in the soil that impede the passage of water and the growth of roots: Cultivation/plough pan; Chemical/iron pan. If suspected do a pit test.
Plough pan can be avoided by ploughing or rotavating at different depths in the soil and cultivating when the soil is not too wet.
Pans are broken up by sub-soiling on a large scale or deep digging in the garden. Surface “after capping”: Surface: walking/working wet soil. If soil sticks to boots it is too wet to walk on/wait until dried out. If you have to go on the soil, use planks to walk on. (Correct timing of cultivations). After capping: Usually caused by heavy rain or irrigation that breaks down the surface tilth, then dries out quickly causing a crust to form. On seed beds this can stop seedlings breaking through to the surface. Avoid heavy irrigation of seed beds, in other situations mulching and green manuring can be used to protect the soil surface.