Farming 'breakthrough' overlooked

07 Sep, 2014 02:00 AM
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A recent survey of eastern Australian grain farmers found that only 13pc were using three-metre CTF

THE low adoption of Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) practices throughout Australian broadacre farming areas has soil scientists baffled as to why more farmers haven’t tapped into its many advantages.

By confining weight-bearing machinery wheels to permanent tracks across a paddock, CTF effectively limits soil compaction to about 15 per cent of the paddock and leaves the remaining soil to regenerate and lift crop yield potential.

Despite the system being heralded as a breakthrough for farming nearly two decades ago, a recent survey of eastern Australian grain farmers found that only 13pc were using three-metre CTF, 21pc were using a combination of two-metre and three-metre CTF, and 66pc were using none at all.

Speaking at the 9th CTF conference in Mildura, Victoria, last week, CTF Solutions consultant Don Yule, Brisbane, said the survey showed a general lack of understanding by growers and advisers of the principles and application of CTF.

Mr Yule said there was a need for more industry and government funding to address the knowledge and application gap.

He said another impediment to adoption had been the lack of standards and compatibility across machinery, technology and software.

“We are still seeking funding and are looking at a model that focuses on the education and training of farmers, agronomists and machinery dealers,” he said.

“I think an enormous amount of money is wasted now on generating information. We are just deluged with information. There is more than enough information. We just need it to be applied more on the ground.”

Mr Yule said CTF should be viewed as a holistic farming system which, when combined with other technologies such as no-till, reduced soil constraints, increased yield potential and cut fuel and chemical use.

FarmOnline
Neil Lyon

Neil Lyon

is the national machinery writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
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READER COMMENTS

Bigpen
7/09/2014 6:19:01 AM

The large business focussed broadacre farm focusses on timeliness and low capitalisation to reap the rewards of scale. The flipside of that is they use a plethora of contractors for sowing harvest or spraying. These contractors deliver benefits such as in 4 days spraying, quick sow or harvest which far outway any requirement for specified wheel spacing or equipment width, let alone the impracticality of ever deepening tracks
Pete Rothwell
7/09/2014 6:50:14 AM

Did they ever stop to think that maybe its expensive to implement? It can make perfect economic sense to do controlled traffic but you have to have the cash available to do it. I bet there is a lot of things farmers would like to do but can't simply because there is not enough available cash in their business.
Deregul8
8/09/2014 6:11:28 AM

Whne you go fishing you chase big fish not little ones with the limited bait you have. Similarly in farming there are so many places you can spend your money to improve the bottom line. Most are focussing on getting a bit of scale in moderation, more lime, more fertilizer, new herbicide chemistries etc. When wheat stays at $350 for more than a couple of years in 10 there might be some incentive to chase the smaller gains on offer. But thats just my 2 bobs worth
hoegrass
8/09/2014 7:14:03 AM

better off spending money on gypsum and lime. its not compaction thats the problem, it is low pH on aluminium toxic soils and low calcium in high pH soils. the high quality cheap lime at lancelin is finite so time to go crazy on the limefirst and foremost
Inverell
8/09/2014 8:31:27 AM

What about the fact that a lot of paddocks are not suitable for CT. Slope, size and banks and make it hard to implement and use, especially east of the Newell highway.
Beef man
9/09/2014 7:24:49 AM

Maybe farmers know best
Qlander
9/09/2014 10:00:39 AM

Mr Yule said there was a need for more industry and government funding. - Say no more.
Pete Rothwell
9/09/2014 4:39:22 PM

If I implement CTF can I harvest green wheat too just like in the photo?
Zero till
9/09/2014 5:46:52 PM

All the comments so far seem to be from people who are not doing CTF or have convinced themselves that its impossible or doesn't work. Every grain growing area has someone farming on 3 metre CTF so it can't be that hard. We have been doing it for over 10 years. It is easy to implement doesn't cost much and you will see positive results compared to how you used to farm.
Pete Rothwell
10/09/2014 7:31:23 AM

Are you serious zero till? It doesn't cost that much? What if none of your current gear matches up? what if you don't have any guidance? yep, sounds cheap to set up. To set it up really well it can cost a lot of cash. As I said I'm not saying that its not a good thing to do, far from it, I'm actually just about there, but it can be very hard to find the cash to do it.
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