By Top Crop Manager
Tramlines and deflectors still being tested.
In trying to reduce yield losses in wheat from wheel tracks, some growers are
trying various means and tools, depending on their management practices or crop
Shields or deflectors are a relatively inexpensive and quick addition to a
sprayer's wheel configuration. Mounted in front of the wheels, the principle
is to bend wheat stalks without breaking them during spray applications. The
more expensive, and arguably more complex, method is establishing tramlines.
Both have their supporters and detractors. Peter Allaer, a Wallaceburg area
grower, has considered mounting shields or deflectors on his sprayer and tractor.
But he also knows some growers have reduced their losses by using tramlines
created from a GPS and a hydraulic closer on the planter. "We're thinking
of physically spreading the row a little bit so that when we go in to spray,
we're just running over one row instead of two or three," says Allaer,
adding he will try this method in the fall.
The aspect of deflectors or shields that he does not like is the issue of wheel
width versus row width. If the wheels of the sprayer or the tractor are running
over the base of the wheat plants, then no amount of deflection will help. "On
a 7-1/2 inch row, no matter how far you spread that plant, you'll still run
over the base of the plant," explains Allaer. "If the row isn't wide
enough, it doesn't matter how far you push the top over, if the bottom is going
to get run over, that's where the damage will be done."
Rotation another key
Dennis Dow maintains that management and rotation are key deciding factors.
The Staffa area grower is in his second year of experimenting with shields,
and has found it more cost efficient in the short-term. "Last year, there
was still tramping because I was basically setting an eight inch tire in a 7-1/2
inch row but, theoretically, moving the openers over a bit should work,"
says Dow, who uses a combination drill where he puts on fertilizer at the same
time. "I find it hard to believe that you have to go to a 10 inch row to
fit in an eight inch tire, and given the negligible cost, it's worth a try."
The other primary consideration for Dow is his rotation. He plants wheat after
white beans and finds he gets better weed control with a pre-harvest application
of Roundup on the white beans, than nothing in the spring. "Putting in
tramlines just for the Folicur when there are going to be some years when the
weather is such that I won't be putting on Folicur doesn't make sense,"
he says. "Yet I'll have those tramlines in there, whereas if I can make
these shields work, I can use them when I need them."