Controlling field traffic for grassland yield benefits

This year, we have been looking at how reducing machinery wheelings in field work could have a benefit in the yield of the crop. This Reduced Traffic or Controlled Traffic question has been raised in the light of soil compaction studies.

Two passes from tractor compaction in autumn field conditions has been shown to reduce the yield of the following years 1st cut by between 16 and 25% (DairyCo compaction work).  Some work at Harper Adams University a few years ago reported that, when making grass silage, as much as 65% of the field area can be travelled on by vehicles, and other work has demonstrated silage yield improvements and cost savings when restricting the traffic to specific pathways to help reduce soil compaction.  Some of the previous work which has led to the current experiment was done in Michigan and Nebraska, and can be read by clicking on the highlighted words.

The experiment at Crichton is on a grass silage field, with half the area being used in a conventional way, and half having controlled traffic management.  The Controlled field traffic has only been allowed to use a pre-set pattern of tramlines, including the field margins and turning areas.  Three cuts of silage have been made using both systems.

More information about how field activities affect field compaction and crop yields will be welcome, given that, until now, the pattern of vehicle movement over a field has been arbitrary.  Innovations such as GPS tools can now make this system easy to set up.  We expect to see the results of grass yield changes and the comparison of soil compaction between the two treatments after Christmas.

There is one response to “Controlling field traffic for grassland yield benefits”

  1. Jim Douglas Says:

    The effects of soil compaction, conventional, reduced ground pressure and zero traffic systems on grass yield was thoroughly researched by Douglas et al 25 years ago at SIAE/SCAE. These fully published results could/should have been used to predict and model benefits of "Controlled traffic". It is actually quite ridiculously wasteful of resources to repeat field experimentation and disingenuous to claim "new" findings and while not acknowledging the much more detailed and comprehensive earlier work.