Jung farmer Gavin Puls says some form of track renovation is necessary for growers with a lentil phase in their rotation.AFTER years of no-till and now controlled traffic, farmers using these practices are content with the improvements to the vast majority of their paddocks, but ‘tram tracks’ where vehicles travel are proving somewhat of a problem.

Compaction and rutting, especially in spray rig lines, where farmers have been forced to spray in wet conditions, leaving deep wheel marks, are becoming a problem in no-till systems.

With this in mind, a number of members of the Victorian No Till Farmers Association (VNTFA) are looking at track renovation.

A VNTFA field day, held across three sites in the Wimmera earlier this month investigated both commercially built and farm designed and made renovator units.

Luke Rethus, Rethus Broadacre, showed the crowd at the field day the unit his family was using, which was designed by his brother Tim and made on-farm by crop manager Glenn Pietsch.

“Obviously, the ideal would be to not have these tracks at all, but there are times they are unavoidable.”

He said there were major issues with line slumping, guttering and rutting across various soil types.

The obvious issue comes in terms of declining paddock trafficability, which in turn slows down operations, but Mr Rethus also said there were also issues with seeding accuracy.

“We can’t get things quite level or we can’t steer on the ruts, the auto-steer will cut out.

“We had to do something about, essentially filling in the ruts so we could drive on them as we liked.”

Mr Rethus said the business bought a Daybreak renovator, which worked to an extent as is.

However, he said modifications were needed as the ground became spongier and with deeper ruts that filled with water, exacerbating the problem.

So the machine was modified and after a few experiments, the current model features grader blades, finger harrows and spring rollers mounted to the original machine.

“The current set up helps smooth the soil and also seems to work well to ensure there is not too sharp a gutter.”

Mr Rethus said only paddocks coming out of a pulse phase at present were suitable for use with the machine.

“Cereal stubbles are too heavy to do successfully.”

He said with the add-ons, the machine could not grade successfully if the humidity rates were over 30pc.

“The straw seems a little too wet and there is sticking and grabbing.”

However, he said they had used the machine over a couple of hundred hectares this summer and were pleased with the results.

“It has merits, and we’ll look to improve it further.”

Jung farmer Gavin Puls said he had decided to make a track renovating unit in order to keep growing lentils.

“If we didn’t grow lentils, I wouldn’t bother filling them in except for the headlands, but with a low growing crop we really need to do them.

“We worked out we were losing 100kg/ha this year due to the spray track, and when lentils are $1000/t that’s a lot of money.”

He said initially the focus had been on renovating spray tracks, but said now header lines also needed doing, especially on ‘powderpuff’ black Wimmera soil types.

The machine features discs and other material salvaged from the farm scrapyard.

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