Controlled Traffic Farming

At Dale Drills we support the research and demonstration carried out by CTF Europe and Unilever R + D Colworth at Sharnbrook Bedfordshire, into Controlled Traffic Farming. We have supplied a specially adapted 8 meter Dale Zero Till drill with wheels at 3m centres which drills approximately 120 ha each year to demonstrate the advantages which CTF delivers to British soils.

Further information on the work done at Unilever R + D Colworth can be seen at  

On all our own cropped land (1200ha) we practice Controlled Traffic Farming. All combining, cultivating if required and drilling is done at 8 meter widths. Wheels are set to the same track settings and as a result wheelings cover approximately 24% of the field area. Before we practiced CTF we would run on 80% to 90% of the field. Although all tyres and combine tracks are set to exert less than 0.7 bar, if we do have a wet time when we have to travel on the field, we know where the soil damage has occurred, and only need to rectify the damage on this area.


This bar chart shows the comparison in cost between the different establishment methods. More detailed prices are listed below.

See the bottom of this page for figures.

The effect of Controlled Traffic Farming on machinery costs.

Due to the absence of random wheelings across the field, there is no need for deeper cultivation, except on the headlands where machines have turned. The soil in CTF also becomes lighter and more easily workable, enabling a 160hp tractor to comfortably cultivate or drill 40 ha in an average day, pulling 8m wide equipment.
In the autumn, with 40 available days between 1st August and 31st October, 800 ha could be cultivated once and a further 800 ha could be drilled.
In the spring, with 30 available days between 1st February and 30th April, then a further 600 ha can be cultivated and 600 ha can be drilled.
Although there is a need to level lift and possibly roll down the headlands where machinery has turned, which amounts to 15% of the total area, it would be possible for one 160 hp tractor to do all the landwork on a 1000ha farm, in controlled traffic farming conditions. In a wet season another tractor may be required to repair damage in the controlled wheelings.

Dale Drills used in CTF

As the Eco-Drill works so well in CTF systems, a number have been sold to farmers throughout the uk who use them in such a way. Two cases in particular are Neesham Farms who have used a 9m Eco-Drill in a CTF system since Autumn 2010 and L E Barnes and Son who have used a 12m Eco-Drill in a CTF system since Autumn 2010.




Ploughing 42.00
Cultipress 20.00
Cultipress 20.00
Power harrow 26.50
Roll 11.00
Drill 19.00
Roll 11.00

Total 149.50

Disc 27.00
Shallow level-lift 30.00
Cultipress 20.00
Roll 11.00
Drill 27.00
Roll 11.00

Total 126.00

Cost of level-lifting and rolling headlands @ £41/ha on 15% of the area 6.15
Drilling 27.00
Rolling 11.00
One dose of slug pellets 13.00
Application of slug pellets 3.00
Total 60.15
If required, cost of level-lifting combine and grain cart wheelings
@ £41/ha on 40% of the area 16.40
Total 76.55

Cost of combining at accurate parallel bout widths:
Capital cost of auto-trac, maintenance and license 3.75
Cost of level-lifting and rolling headlands @ £41/ha on 15% of the area 6.15
Shallow cultivations on 70% of land
e.g. cultipress or light disc and roll (@ £20 / ha) 14.00
Drill (easier to pull on C. T. F.) 25.00
Roll 11.00

Total 60.90
The cost of an additional dose of slug pellets is included with the direct drilled crop as no cultivation is done.

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