Controlled traffic farming


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Picture of machines at harvest

A survey of growers who believed they had implemented controlled traffic farming (CTF) has revealed that many are not gaining the full benefits because they have not implemented some of the essential components of the system.

There are six components that must ALL be in place for the CTF system to work.

Practice 1. Controlled traffic manages compaction by defining CTF management zones – hard wheel tracks for access and timeliness; soft beds for crops (and no wheels – ever!).

Practice 2. Machinery must fit in with the farm plan. Develop a machinery plan, choose a wheel track and buy or modify tractors and implements to match. Wide tracks, wide implements and narrow tyres deliver efficiency and effectiveness to farm operations.

Practice 3. The controlled traffic field layout must be designed to manage runoff, erosion, waterlogging and wheel track drainage. All tracks must drain to a safe disposal area. Get professional advice using the excellent topographic data now available from the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS).

Practice 4. Controlled traffic supports zero tillage to gain all the soil health benefits of increased water infiltration, ground cover, soil structure and soil carbon. CTF has delivered wheat yields 2.5 times that of traditional farming systems under the same rainfall conditions in Central Queensland.

Practice 5. Once the farm layout is established it is essential to use guidance technology (GNSS RTK 2cm) to auto steer machinery to reduce driver fatigue, protect the crop beds and enable repeatable, accurate farming operations, including inter-row cropping.

Practice 6. Make the most of the spatial technologies available to apply precision farming strategies. Using global positioning and 2-way communications (mobile phones) access to the internet allows automated and remote data collection, processing, interpretation and distribution anywhere with high accuracy (2 cm) and high intensity (1 m, single plant). Strip trials and accurate yield monitoring support on-farm research, by the farmer.

Read more about the benefits of controlled traffic farming…