A soil with excellent structure will allow healthy root development, have good water infiltration, and support equipment; but compaction and tillage can destroy structure and create root-zone challenges.
Controlled traffic farming — where tire tracks of all implements are focused on the same route — is one way to decrease tillage and overall compaction. What does that look like in practice?
For this episode of The Agronomists, host Lyndsey Smith is joined by Warren Schneckenburger of Morrisburg, Ont., and Scott Keller of New Norway, Alta., to get the goods on CTF and compaction management.
This episode of the Agronomists is brought to you by ADAMA Canada, CanolaMaster, and The Sharp Edge!
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- Let’s start with the why — what is the crop mix and soil type of each farm?
- Why did controlled traffic farming appeal to you?
- What’s the very first step? Getting sprayer lines set up
- If you do nothing else, get the sprayer on the same track year over year
- Narrow sprayer tires are a rut magnet
- You don’t need to go full controlled traffic to take better care of soil
- What’s the outcome? Scott shares a collage! In a wet year, trust the tracks — even when it’s wet
- The key is to focus all the compaction in one zone
- You can feel when the tractor and implement hit the track
- Is central tire inflation necessary? No, but it’s a game changer, says Warren
- The time it takes to change tire pressure between road and field, and vice versa, is time spent doing paperwork etc. It’s not wasted time
- CTF is a great fit for zero tillage, but fits in reduced tillage systems really well
- Strips can require some maintenance, either because or ruts (there is some waggle) or residue build up on either side
- What do you need? The RenovatorTM — you can buy tools or you can make them, says Scott
- You can drive 8 or so MPH and tidy up most of the farm in a day, vs. trying to work every acre just for a tiny area of ruts
- The grain cart (and manure tankers, and silage wagons…) are sneaky compaction culprits
- Stick to the same lines, but don’t worry about perfection — sometimes the grain cart is going to make a cut across while empty
- Invest in the fat tires, says Warren
- Measure the header — six to eight inches difference matters!
- What’s NOSE? North odd, South even
- The total cost of moving to CTF is incredibly manageable and doesn’t have to happen in one year
- The biggest investment is RTK/GPS set up, but that’s an investment farms make regardless of CTF
- Change the piece of equipment that doesn’t fit the tracks when it’s time to change it (often the seeder), no need to spend the money sooner, necessarily