Recent controlled traffic farming workshops held in the Wheatbelt have confirmed growers’ renewed interest in the farming system.
Information and research outcomes presented at the workshops were organised by the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council with Caring for Our Country funds.
Department of Agriculture and Food senior research officer Paul Blackwell said with more than 80 participants at the workshops, it was great to see growers and the grains industry embracing controlled traffic farming (CTF) as a new technology with considerable potential benefits.
“We found that growers and agribusiness at all four workshops held at Yuna with the Yuna Farm Improvement Group and the Northern Agricultural Group, Coorow with the Liebe Group, Burracoppin with the Wheatbelt NRM and Gnowangerup with North Stirlings Pallinup Natural Resources were interested in CTF,” Dr Blackwell said.
“The system can improve profitability of grain growing as well as environmental management and the workshops helped to overcome some barriers to adoption.
“The idea behind CTF is to restrict soil compaction and crop damage by using permanent tramlines or wheel tracks which can result in about 10 per cent more yield and less screenings in cereal and more oil in canola.
“Analysis of data from recent fieldwork showed current benefits of controlling traffic and the penalties of poor traffic control in a CTF system (between five and 20 $/ha in the recent case studies).”
The workshops focused on the development of machinery investment plans to achieve improved traffic control without compromising seeding and harvesting efficiency. Farmers are moving towards wider equipment to improve seeding efficiency.
“An example of useful workshop discussion was about the successful incorporation of 18-metre-wide seeders and 12-metre-wide headers in a well planned traffic management system,” Dr Blackwell said.
“A calculation tool was also used to emphasise that improved seeding capacity can also come from other changes than seeder width, for example increased operating speed and higher capacity air carts.”
Technical challenges such as limited spreading width of headers and lime sand were discussed, as well as the degree of fit to notional three metre track systems by different equipment.
“We were also fortunate to have Andrew Whitlock from Precision Agriculture available who provided essential input to all the workshops to help growers and consultants plan their machinery changes for CTF,” he said.
Media contact: Jodie Thomson, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937