Controlled traffic for irrigated double cropping in a semi-arid tropical environment: Part 2, Tillage operations and energy use
McPhee, JE and Braunack, MV and Gardside, AL and Reid, DJ and Hilton, DJ, Controlled traffic for irrigated double cropping in a semi-arid tropical environment: Part 2, Tillage operations and energy use, Journal of Agricultural Engineering Research, 60 pp. 183-189. ISSN 0021-8634 (1995) [Refereed Article]
Changes in farming systems, such as direct drilling and controlled traffic, offer considerable potential for reducing energy inputs in agriculture. Energy use was one factor investigated in a research programme undertaken to assess the potential of controlled traffic for irrigated double cropping in a semi-arid tropical environment. A controlled traffic system was used with two different cultural treatments, one being direct drilling, and the other being conventional cultivation on the area between the traffic lanes. These were compared with a conventional tillage system. Power-speed relationships were derived for two instrumented tractors. A number of tractor operating parameters were monitored during field operations in order to determine energy use. Controlled traffic and direct drilling markedly reduced energy use owing to a reduction in the number of operations required for seedbed preparation. Energy use was 28-34% of that required for conventional practices. The cultivated controlled traffic system, while using less energy for individual tillage operations than the conventional system, was disadvantaged by the need to carry out many operations related to furrow maintenance. As a result, seasonal energy use in the cultivated controlled traffic system was often of the same magnitude as the conventional tillage system. Energy savings resulting from a combination of controlled traffic and direct drilling should allow reductions in both capital and operating costs in this type of crop production system.