"It's like growing vegetables in raised beds, just on a larger scale"
Courteenhall Farms run a Controlled Traffic Farming system. This system allows them to reduce production costs and increase yields by improving soil health.
Letting nature do the work, it works on the principle that if it's not broken, don't need to fix it. Much of the time and energy we put into soils is to undo the compaction damage we have caused by the movement of heavy machinery. On a typical farm 80-90% of a field ends up being tracked in a year. With CTF, that percentage should be reduced to less than 30%. Overlaps are slashed, meaning inputs and fuel use are reduced very significantly.
The savings are clear to see, but the increased yields can be harder to quantify. A useful guide is that wheat can be expected to yield around 8% better where not compacted and OSR over 25% better.
The reason it hasn’t yet caught on everywhere is the substantial up-front investment and farm organisation required. Farms that work with Courteenhall are benefitting from the improved yields and savings per hectare that come with our CTF system.
At Courteenhall we have adopted a 12m module width which all of machinery is based around. When it comes to GPS steering, the best pass-to-pass systems can only guarantee repeatability for 15 minutes. A Real Time Kinetic (RTK) system allows much longer repeatability and greater accuracy, at +/- 2cm. Courteenhall farms has its own RTK network which is growing across South Northamptonshire and is available for others to use.