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Controlled Traffic Farming in the Wet

By K-Line Ag
Published on
25 November 2021

CTF is the way to go

Controlled traffic farming (CTF) or Tramline farming has been adopted in many cropping enterprises. The system has definite benefits, both agronomic and economic.

The main feature of CTF is to limit traffic by agricultural machinery to defined areas, rather than across the whole paddock. Traffic is confined to permanent wheel tracks - limiting compaction to those tracks, while the rest of the seedbed remains undisturbed. The best way to implement CTF is to develop a unique system that fits your own farm, your machinery configuration and circumstances.

Benefits of controlled traffic farming

Implementing a system of CTF will allow more precise operations that separates a paddock into distinct zones. The benefits that this allows are as follows:

  • Less energy is needed for seedbed preparation when driving over the compact traffic lanes which can result in an average saving up to 25% in fuel.
  • Improved soil structure through reduced compaction, resulting in improved water holding capacity.
  • Generally less herbicide and fertiliser is used by managing paddocks in ‘zones’ of similar soil types (and reduced costs from less overlap due to more accurate driving). Herbicide use is reduced by removing double sprayed corners, with less chance of herbicide drift into remnant vegetation and waterways.
  • Reduced tractor capital; firm permanent tramlines and softer soil between tramlines reduce power requirements.

All these benefits will result in improved crop yields. An added benefit of CTF is that if you are renovating your soil to reduce subsurface or seedbed compaction through deep ripping, soil will continue to remain loose and friable for many years after natural ‘settling’ as soil is not being trafficked back to its original compacted state.

CTF and wet soils

In most parts of the cropping zones of south-east Australia, this year has been exceptionally wet. While the benefits of CTF have proven themselves by having a firm base for farming operations, paddocks have suffered from deep rutted tramlines this year due to machinery travelling over wet conditions throughout the winter and spring.

Continuing wet conditions, and indeed flooding in many areas, also promise a difficult harvest. We are going to see a lot more deeply rutted tramlines from the haul grain carts and the heavy harvesters. Paddocks this harvest are already starting to become a mess.

Restore your cropping land

Those wet soils will eventually dry out, and there will be a good store of subsoil moisture ready for the following crop. But how to renovate those rutted and water compacted soils?

Fortunately, K-line Ag has the machinery to recondition those damaged cropping soils.

In severely rutted soils with extensive areas of compaction, deep ripping may be the answer. K-line Ag has a range of rippers designed to break those deeply compacted soils, restoring structure and drainage to the subsoil, with minimal disturbance to the topsoil.

Which now leaves the topsoil to be reconditioned.

The TrackAttack® by K-Line Ag is specifically designed for CTF. This machine will level out wheel tracks, ruts and uneven terrain. The alternate rows of discs cut through the ground, loosening and moving the soil onto the tram-line, then the crumbler roller follows behind breaking down the soil and cloddy dirt. This leaves the tramline with a flat and even weed free surface, making it easier and smoother for equipment to pass.

But what if the tramlines and bog ruts are even more severe, as they promise to be in many cropping areas this year due to heavy rainfall?

This is where K-Line Ag’s Speedtiller® provides the solution. The Speedtiller® will do a full cultivation of the paddock, moving soil about to fill ruts and hollows; and levelling the paddock for a fresh start for the following crop or pasture.

And after a flood

Many paddocks will have suffered flood damage after constant rain. Exposed and washed soil will be compacted and rendered almost structureless. Again, this is where K-line Ag can offer solutions. The range of rippers and the versatile Speedtiller® are best suited to these conditions, and can restore the soil structure in time for next season’s crop. Better times are ahead!