Controlled traffic farming on display at test plots

Central Alberta farmers should soon get a first-hand look at the effects of controlled traffic farming.

Central Alberta farmers should soon get a first-hand look at the effects of controlled traffic farming.

Large-scale farm plots near Lacombe, Trochu, Morrin and the Dapp-Jarvie area are being used to demonstrate the practice of using permanent traffic lanes in fields. Common in Australia, this farming technique is believed to reduce the soil compaction that occurs when farm machinery follows random paths. That could improve water storage and filtration in the soil, and increase nutrient uptake. Other possible advantages are reduced drag of implements and resulting fuels savings, and the ability for producers to more accurately target chemical applications.

Last year, an Alberta project to research and share information about controlled traffic farming was initiated. It’s being managed by the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta, with funding from several grower associations. Peter Gamache is project co-ordinator.

The four test fields will be farmed using both controlled traffic farming and traditional techniques. That should enable producers and researchers to compare crop yields and see how the soils differ.

“We are looking at these as kind of applied research plots,” said Gamache. “It will give us an idea what’s happening.”

The trials should also raise producers’ awareness of controlled traffic farming, he added.

The Alberta controlled traffic farming project has already generated interest and curiosity among producers, said Gamache.

The Central Alberta trials will feature special field days on July 27 at Lacombe and Aug. 2 at Trochu. Details are still being finalized, but information will be available at the project website at www.controlledtrafficfarming.org.