Research

The effect of low ground pressure and controlled traffic farming systems on soil properties and crop development for three tillage systems

Abstract

This project is a continuation of the long-term traffic and tillage project established in 2011. It aims to assist in the understanding of traffic and tillage system on crop growth. It potentially enables improved understanding of the effect of the above on soil conditions using the novel X-ray computer tomography. In addition an economic analysis of the farming systems will be conducted based upon a full 5-year crop rotation.

Description

The use of heavy machinery in agriculture is a major cause of compaction which alters soil aggregate and pore structure affecting soil strength, porosity/availability of air and its response to heat. Compacted soils can lead to reductions in water and fertiliser uptakes leading to lower crop production and increased water runoff. Nutrient losses have been found to increase in compacted soils.

A long-term field trial at Harper Adams University (UK) was established in 2011 to investigate field traffic management strategies and tillage systems on soil condition, crop development and yield, and production economics. Specifically, the randomised and replicated 3 x 3 factorial design will determine the relationship between (a) conventional tyre inflation pressure, low tyre inflation pressure and controlled traffic farming strategies and (b) deep, shallow and zero tillage systems. The aim of this study is to develop management approaches that both optimise the soil and water resource while providing good crop performance, competitive farm economics and reduction of environmental impacts.

Recent studies looked at the early crop growth and yield of winter barley and found reductions in plant establishment and root dry mass for compacted areas, but resultant yields were not significantly different. 

Funding Body

The Douglas Bomford Trust, Michelin, Vaderstad Ltd

Lead Organisation

Harper Adams Univesity

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