Think About Controlling Traffic

If next spring’s planting season turns wet, Randall Reeder says no-tillers who use controlled traffic may be ahead of their neighbors. The Ohio State University agricultural engineer says it might let you no-till quicker despite wet conditions that normally delay planting.

“Growers who have established controlled traffic techniques could possibly plant several days ahead of growers who do not have controlled traffic,” he says. “If a grower is not using controlled traffic, he has to wait until the ground is dry enough to drive on, even though a 1 1/2 inch seeding depth might be dry enough to plant.”

Natural For No-Tillers

Reeder says controlled traffic lets you more effectively manage soil compaction. All equipment is the same width so your wheel traffic is confined to specific paths year after year and the remainder of the soil is left untouched. With the aid of guidance systems and GPS technology, it’s a natural for no-tillers to use. (Incidentally, Ohio State University ag engineer Matthew Sullivan will outline the pros and cons of using guidance systems during the early January 11th annual National No-Tillage Conference in Indianapolis, Ind.).

Reeder says controlled traffic offers no-tillers distinct advantages in a wet spring. “In a year like last spring, the soil is going to get compacted very easily,” he says. “But if a no-tiller has been practicing controlled traffic for, say 3 years, the driving lanes will be firm. The untouched soil will be loose and dry out faster, giving no-tillers the opportunity to plant…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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