Controlled Traffic Farming

CTF is a farming system that provides greater productivity, sustainability and profitability.

Improved soil structure underpins the benefits of CTF.  This is achieved by restricting all heavy machinery wheels to the smallest possible area of permanent traffic lanes where compaction is beneficial for traction and field access.  Soil under CTF can absorb and hold more plant-available water and nutrients, and can be managed with less time and energy input.  Adoption of CTF at reasonable cost requires a long-term plan for modification of equipment (to ensure all traffic occurs on permanent traffic lanes) and farm layout (to ensure optimal drainage).  We suggest the following list of priorities:

The fundamentals:

  1. All machinery has the same or modular working and track gauge width which allows establishment of permanent traffic lanes
  2. All machinery is capable of precise guidance along the permanent traffic lanes*
  3. Farm, paddock and permanent traffic lane layout arranged to optimise drainage and logistics

These foundations allow integration of a number of other practices and technologies such as:

  1. Minimal soil disturbance, preferably zero-till, or at most strip-till
  2. More intensive cropping frequency and cover crops to maximise biomass production and provide greater residue return to the system
  3. Precise management such as inter-row seeding and accurate application of chemicals and fertiliser
  4. Spatial monitoring, mapping and management (e.g. yield mapping and subsequent zonal management, if required) at progressively finer scale within a defined spatial framework (i.e. permanent traffic and crop zones)
  5. Accurate and repeatable on-farm research trials based on a defined spatial framework and spatial technologies

Integration of the whole gives a CTF system that provides:

  1. Improved resilience to climate variability
  2. Improved productivity, profit and sustainability
  3. Easier and improved record keeping
  4. Enhanced lifestyle
  5. Future integration of automation and robotics

*  Normally achieved with GNSS autosteer for all machinery with all way lines referenced to a permanent base station location or CORS network to provide “2 cm” guidance accuracy.