Estimating traffic induced sugarcane losses for various harvesting, loading and infield transport operations in South Africa.
Tweddle, Peter B.
MetadataShow full item record
Infield traffic has been understood to cause adverse field conditions for crop growth. Literature containing traffic induced yield responses for sugarcane was reviewed and synthesised to better estimate the impact of infield traffic on sugarcane yields. Approximately 128 sugarcane yield responses to infield traffic treatments from local and international trials were collated and analysed. The impact of soil compaction effects on soil properties were not considered as there is a substantial body of knowledge on this topic. The results confirm that traffic on a sugarcane row is more detrimental than inter-row traffic. Soil water content at the time of infield traffic and infield traffic load intensity are further critical factors affecting soil compaction and sugarcane yield. Further aggregation of the data by soil textural groups was found to establish yield response trends useful for modelling of infield traffic scenarios, but were not statistically significant. Infield traffic paths of equipment movements were surveyed and mapped for a range of typical harvesting systems found commercially in the South African sugarcane industry. The maps were analysed to proportion the field area by row traffic, inter-row traffic and remaining non traffic areas for each machine component used infield. Yield losses based on vehicle traffic impacts were assigned to each corresponding component as determined from the results of the literature synthesis. The traffic induced yield loss was apportioned to the areas trafficked to determine a field based yield loss estimate for each of the harvesting and extraction systems and a corresponding economic impact reported. The ranking of system costs, reported off a mechanisation costing base, altered when the additional field traffic induced yield loss components were added, particularly when yield losses were compounded across multiple ratoons within a cropping cycle. Systems operating with low impact vehicles, of low traffic extent combined with controlled traffic practices resulted in the lowest yield losses on a field basis and also resulted in the lowest overall cost. Controlled traffic practices reduce the impact of heavy infield equipment on yields. The significance of this work is that the yield losses due to infield traffic can now be attributed to systems to allow for improved costing analyses and system comparisons to be conducted. It is proposed that this new contribution be incorporated into standard mechanisation costing methodologies to allow for such crop yield losses to be accounted for.