What Next?

If I'm interested what should I do now?

If you have read all the information provided here (including one or two "case studies"), you should be well on the way to understanding what is involved. If you want to assess the system's immediate potential on your farm, the first step is to draw up an inventory of the machinery that you would plan to use. This involves, as outlined in the case studies, measuring the width of your different machines and the wheel track gauges of the wheeled equipment. This will give you an idea of the compatibility of the different elements of the system and identify what modifications, if any, would be necessary or worth considering.

Alternatively contact us at info@controlledtrafficfarming.com and we will respond to your enquiry. If you are farming in the UK, it may be possible to offer you a free farm audit. Send us your contact details to find out.

Otherwise, or in addition, we can put you in touch with practising CTF growers or farmers.

How is CTF introduced?

CTF can be introduced at any pace and in any manner according to the user's preference. Initially it requires a change in attitude towards the farming operation, and this in turn allows opportunities to be explored. In simple terms, the idea is to create a machinery system with a common wheel track or gauge where the wheels or tracks always run in the same places in the field, as with annual tramlines, but CTF applies to all operations from crop to crop and from season to season. Setting out the wheelways requires an initial plan, and in the field, a marker system, which may simply be physical arms on the implement. Differential Global Positioning Systems (DGPS) or more accurate refinements of this may also be used (see section below). But CTF is not just about wheels – it is a whole farming system. The soil conditions that you will experience are likely to be quite new to you. On most soils you will find that far less rigorous cultivation is needed to create a seedbed, or indeed, that no cultivation at all is required. Thus, one finds that progressively lower inputs with less aggressive cultivators are possible and for weed and disease control, the user starts to re-evaluate the spacing between crop rows, plant densities and the possibility of inter-row tillage and non-selective inter-row chemical application.

In many parts of the world, where road use of agricultural equipment is common, the challenge is to integrate harvester and other vehicle wheel track gauges with road legislation and the practicalities of use. These issues are discussed in detail in the Case Studies.

As far as selecting individual fields, sections of your rotation or the whole farm are concerned, this is best decided after you have a thorough understanding of what is involved and have read one or two of the case studies. As far as the soil and prevailing weed conditions are concerned, it is preferable that any major problems are dealt with before embarking on CTF. Heavily compacted soils will recover with time following the introduction of CTF, but this is a slow process and the ideal is to enter CTF in the year following a dry season when the maximum amount of repair has been possible. Be aware however of very loose conditions. These will mean that the newly formed wheelways will need immediate repair - filling in with soil from the surrounding bed.

Entry to the system should be planned at least 12 months in advance, but exceptions are possible if conditions happen to be right. Similarly, with weed control, if you are making the transition from a plough regime to a non-inversion or zero tillage system, you should ensure that you do not have a major weed problem at the outset. Managed correctly, CTF has the potential to reduce the weed seed bank in your soil, but it would be foolhardy to start with a very high weed pressure.

Satellite guidance systems

Although satellite guidance and autosteer are not essential for achieving CTF, they make it far easier and offer many other advantages. For CTF, only the RTK correction signal is appropriate because this is the most accurate and the only system that provides repeatable postioning. Read more about guidance systems on our Machine Autosteer page.