Soil compaction and controlled traffic considerations in Australian cotton farming systems

Antille, D. L. and Bennett, J. McL. and Jensen, T. (2015) Soil compaction and controlled traffic considerations in Australian cotton farming systems. Technical Report. University of Southern Queensland , Toowoomba, Australia. [Report]


A review of soil compaction literature was conducted to collate best practice techniques for compaction management within cotton farming systems in Australia. The universally negative effects of traffic-induced soil compaction on the whole-of-farm system and the wider environment were examined. These adverse effects include: (1) Increased gap between attainable and potential yields, (2) Increased cost of energy and labour associated with tillage repair treatments, and additional costs derived from implement wear and the use of oversized tractors to maintain work rates, (3) Reduced fertiliser use efficiency associated with impaired nutrient uptake and increased risk of nutrient losses through runoff or gaseous evolution, (4) Reduced water use efficiency (irrigation and rainfall) owing to compaction effects on water infiltration, water storage in soil and exploitation by plant roots, and further effects derived from impacts on the positive interaction that exists between soil water availability and nitrogen uptake, (5) Increased tillage intensity enhances oxidation of soil organic C otherwise protected in stable aggregates, which in turn compromises soil N supply and increases reliance on N fertiliser. Knowledge gaps that therefore merit a research priority within soil compaction work for cotton-based systems in Australia were identified, and a synthesis of how to proceed conceptualised. Areas that appear to be under-researched are: (1) Identification of soil compaction impacts on the wider aspects of farm economics to guide decision-making and development of decision support systems that capture the effects of soil compaction on: (a) fertiliser and water use efficiency, and (b) energy use efficiency, (2) Prediction of soil compaction risks at the field- or subfield-scales and precision management of traffic compaction, especially for non- or seasonally-controlled traffic systems, (3) Canopy management at terminal stages of crop cycle to manipulate soil moisture deficits in pre-harvest of crop, and therefore, trafficability conditions for harvesting equipment, and (4) Role of controlled traffic farming in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and loss of soil organic C, and enhancing fertiliser and water use efficiencies.
Resources need to be efficiently managed within ever sophisticated farming systems to enable for long-term economic viability of cotton production. The agronomic and environmental performances of cotton-based systems could be improved with relatively few inputs, and possibly, at an affordable cost. The range of solutions available is about managing soil compaction and the need to stimulate a shift towards increased adoption of CTF. This process may benefit from financial support to growers such as agrienvironmental stewardships, and assisted by machinery manufacturers through product-customisation.

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Item Type: Report (Technical Report)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: This publication is copyright. It may be reproduced in whole or in part for the purposes of study, research, or review, but is subject to the inclusion of an acknowledgment of the source. NCEA Publication 1004960/15/1
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Civil Engineering and Surveying (1 Jul 2013 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Civil Engineering and Surveying (1 Jul 2013 -)
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2015 05:25
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2017 23:43
Uncontrolled Keywords: cotton farming; soil compaction; Australia
Fields of Research (2008): 05 Environmental Sciences > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050305 Soil Physics
05 Environmental Sciences > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050302 Land Capability and Soil Degradation
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070101 Agricultural Land Management
Fields of Research (2020): 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4106 Soil sciences > 410605 Soil physics
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4106 Soil sciences > 410601 Land capability and soil productivity
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3002 Agriculture, land and farm management > 300202 Agricultural land management
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9614 Soils > 961402 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Soils

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