Tuesday 17 May 2016

Managing Pivot Wheel Track Problems

While centre pivot track management is fairly routine for most growers, those working in more challenging paddocks often need to take extra measures to avoid creating deep tracks or getting stuck.

“During the design phase of a centre pivot is the most cost-effective time to manage tracking issues,” said Steve Melvin, Irrigation Applications Specialist with Lindsay Corporation. “However, there are steps growers can take at any time to help reduce tracking problems.”

Following good maintenance practices is the first and most cost-effective step in reducing tracking problems. Melvin suggests:
  • Check the owner’s manual and adjust the tyre pressure accordingly. When the pressure is too high, the tyres will make deeper tracks and if it’s too low, the tyre may come off the rim.
  • During the first pass of the year, run the pivot around dry on a day when the soil is fairly moist but does not stick to the tyres or squeeze out. These conditions are optimum for packing the soil in the wheel track. During the second pass, apply 6 - 12mm of water. This will help compact the soil and reduce the depth of the pivot track during the season. 
  • Over-watering and keeping the irrigated area too wet often leads to deep tracking problems, so it’s important to maintain a good irrigation schedule. Apply the largest practical irrigation depth, without runoff, and allow the paddock surface to dry more before the next pass. 
In areas where conditions create significant problems, Melvin said growers have additional options, including:
  • Adding a three-foot extension in the pivot pipe at the pivot point every other year, which allows the wheels to move out of the old tracks for a year. This gives the soil an opportunity to firm up before moving back the following year.
  • Adjusting the sprinkler configuration around each tower to direct water away from pivot tracks or applying water after the pivot has passed.
  • Integrating Variable Rate Irrigation technology (VRI) for pinpoint control of irrigation systems. With VRI technology, problem areas can dry out, reducing the depth of the tracks throughout the growing season. For more information visit growsmartprecisionvri.co.nz.
  • Increasing tyre footprint by switching to larger tyres, NFTrax or radials to minimise the kg's per square centimetre the wheel puts on the soil.
To access the complete article that Melvin wrote about track management options, visit www.ksre.k-state.edu/irrigate/oow/p16/Melvin16.pdf.

For information about tracking solutions, including NFTrax, talk with your local Zimmatic dealer or visit www.zimmatic.com/tracking-solutions

This helpful guide to managing wheel track rutting has been adapted from a recent Zimmatic by Lindsay blog article (Managing Wheel Track Problems) and posted today by Sarah Elliot from Lindsay NZ.