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Cereal yield and yield components from cropped traffic lanes compared with non-trafficked crop beds in commercial controlled traffic farming systems

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2022 ASABE Annual International Meeting  2200055.(doi:10.13031/aim.202200055)
Authors:   W. C. Tim Chamen, Diogenes L. Antille
Keywords:   Agricultural traffic, Barley, Soil compaction, Tillage, Tramline management, Wheat, Yield penalty.

Abstract. Controlled traffic farming (CTF) is a mechanization management system in which: (1) all machinery has the same or modular working and wheel track gauge so that field traffic can be confined to the least possible area of permanent traffic lanes, (2) all machinery is capable of precise guidance along those traffic lanes, and (3) the layout of traffic lanes is designed to optimize surface drainage and logistics. With existing machinery, it is rarely possible within a CTF system to achieve tracked areas of less than around 15%, and many CTF systems operate with areas of up to 30%, particularly in Europe. To compensate for this potential loss in area, all traffic lanes other than those used for agrochemical and fertilizer applications, are sown with crop. This research focused on assessing the effectiveness of different traffic lane management systems adopted by eight farmers from the United Kingdom to maximize yields from these lanes without compromising their ability to carry traffic. In terms of yields and ear numbers, results suggested that there was little advantage from carrying out any remedial work on the traffic lanes, whether this was loosening in the center or on the shoulders of the lanes. Lower ear numbers observed in the traffic lanes led to heavier grains, but increased grain weight was insufficient to avoid a yield loss, which on average was around 17% compared with the non-trafficked beds. At one site, where the effect of a combine harvester could be isolated from other traffic in the system, yield losses were more than doubled by this machine. Length of time as a traffic lane had no measurable impact on the extent of yield reduction. Future research should ensure sufficient lead time to enable established plant numbers to be included in the measurements and a more controlled field experiment.

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