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A review of the tractive performance of wheeled tractors and soil management in lowland intensive rice production

Alex Keen, Nigel Hall, Peeyush Soni, Madhav D. Gholkar, Simon Cooper, Jannatul Ferdous
Journal of Terramechanics, Available online 5 October 2012, ISSN 0022-4898, 10.1016/j.jterra.2012.08.001.
Abstract: This paper reviews the cultivation practices and tractive performance using wheeled tractors, and how these interact with soil management, in lowland intensive rice production. The paper explores the issues of long term sustainable soil use, the energy inputs required, environmental impact and changes in approach to agronomy and links these to the tractor operations carried out as part of rice production. The paddy soil environment demonstrates very significant changes in soil properties with depth, in particular soil density, penetrometer resistance, soil structure and pore interconnectivity, water content and movement, and soil biology. This is related to the management of the soil hard pan in relation to machinery operations and machinery use. One of the issues appears to be that the hard pan can be deeper than required with consequently unnecessarily high energy inputs. The tractive performance of wheeled tractors on different surface conditions is considered with respect to tractive efficiency and maintenance of a soil hard pan that has the required characteristics for sustainable production. Alternatives to conventional tyres, cage wheels and tracks, are considered. The cultivation operations are evaluated in relation to soil management, crop requirements and energy use. Variation in hard pan characteristics may be disadvantageous and provides opportunities for precision operations.
Keywords: Tractive performance; Soil management; Energy use; Rice production; Sustainability and precision operations