Management of vehicle paths is the key to compaction reduction
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As the first pass of a vehicle through a field creates the most compaction through the soil profile beneath its wheel/track paths, any ways in which farmers can minimise the passage of subsequent operations beyond those paths could significantly limit further soil damage – and need not be difficult or costly to achieve.
That was the message from precision farming specialist Ian Beecher-Jones, who outlined some of the measures farmers can take to minimise the risk of soil structure damage, and assess and repair existing issues, at the 2018 Case IH press event held near Dresden, Germany. That was the message from precision farming specialist Ian Beecher-Jones, who outlined some of the measures farmers can take to minimise the risk of soil structure damage, and assess and repair existing issues, at the 2018 Case IH press event held near Dresden, Germany. Small improvements in management practices could have widespread impacts on cost savings, suggested Mr Beecher-Jones, who runs a global precision farming consultancy business, supporting farm equipment owners, dealers and manufacturers with advice on maximising value from precision equipment.
“Soil type is largely irrelevant, with most affected in one way or another, while studies show measurable financial effects on crop establishment costs and yield from reduced traffic and consequent compaction, largely due to the maintenance and preservation of structure.”
Prevention is better than cure
Preventing compaction creation is preferable to and cheaper than alleviating it, said Mr Beecher-Jones. “To rectify problems and maintain structure, natural and mechanical means can each help. Encouraging earthworm populations and using cover crops are examples of natural aids. Mechanically, auto-steering systems guided by an RTK signal with its 2.5cm repeatable accuracy mean reducing the level of trafficked land within fields need not be a complex process requiring high levels of additional investment.”