Planning for Operating on Sensitive Soils

A front-line decision support tool for reducing harvest costs when operating on soft ground

Operating on soft ground can be challenging due to strict legislative requirements and uncertainties surrounding the best course of action when supervisors find themselves approaching a state of non-compliance. FPInnovations can assist you in the use of a new decision support tool designed for first-line supervisors who make decisions regarding short-term operational changes in order to ensure the remainder of the block remains compliant in terms of rutting, and where this is not possible, minimize the extra costs associated with site rehabilitation.

The spreadsheet factors in variables, such as distance to the next block, transportation costs, number of machines in the fleet, area remaining in block, and estimated rutting, to calculate the lowest-cost option when faced with soft ground challenges. The proposed solutions are based on FPInnovations’ field tests, but costs can be updated with the user's specific inputs. Potential solutions include:

  • 3-in-1 trail consolidation to reduce machine traffic;
  • Floating machinery to next block and returning when the ground firms up; and
  • Post-harvest trail rehabilitation using an excavator.

Your Benefits

The potential solutions offered to front line supervisors vary depending on block characteristics, fleet size, and the existing rutting situation; however, the lowest-cost solution is typically $0.50 -$1.00/m³ cheaper than the next lowest-cost alternative. This offers supervisors the flexibility to quickly identify potential solutions when operating on soft ground and to quickly quantify the added costs of finishing the block versus leaving for another block.

Learn more about FPInnovations additional membership advantages

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Softground_decision support spreadsheet