Compaction Concerns Contribute to Applicator Design
"If an operator can show his customers that he is doing less damage in the fields and increasing production in the headlands, the dollars add up pretty quickly, and that is before you bring in reduced compaction," said Haefner. "Eighty percent of compaction happens when you run the first tire across the ground. If you can keep following tires in the same track, it has a significant reduction on additional compaction."
Amber Kohlhaas, brand manager, Hagie, pointed to the multiple reductions in crop damage, ground disturbance and soil compaction with all-wheel steering, currently being purchased as an option by 75 percent of STS buyers. "Our All Wheel Steer (AWS) system reduces our turning radius and increases the active speed range by limiting how far the rear wheels turn at higher speeds," she said. "AWS also improves tracking on contours and in wide turns on end rows."
If matching tracks in a given pass is important, that benefit is multiplied when each pass throughout the season follows the same track. Precision steering and field mapping offer customers the benefits of virtual tramlines in the crop. AGCO customers using the AgCommand fleet management system are taking this a step further, said Haefner.
"Some larger fleet owners are looking back at their equipment after the season and using AgCommand to better manage equipment in a given area for a given customer group," he said. "They can look at the customers and assign uniform equipment for herbicide and insecticide application that also match a grower's tracks."
Controlled traffic in the field is important, agreed Jeschke. He added that it is one of many compaction reduction tools that growers and their input suppliers can use to enhance crop potential. "Nobody likes to see compaction, but it is something you have to deal with the best you can," he said.