ProTrakker Guidance Systems Help Farmers Target Moisture Pathways

December 11, 2020

No matter where in the world crops are grown, each grower has to incorporate different farming practices to manage their crops in varying soil types. With Western Australia’s arid climate, the soils are known for their sand-like consistency, making growing crops a challenging endeavor. Area farmers are using methods called edge-row, or on-row sowing, to ensure each seed has access to the limited moisture available.

Non-Wetting Sandy Soil

Some of Australia's soils are such a challenge to work with because they can become water repellent. As microbes break down dead plant material, wax can build up. The buildup degree will vary depending on many variables, but probably the biggest one is the microbe's ability to break-down the wax; this can be hindered significantly by dry, hot weather.

Over time, a hydrophobic wax can coat the sand particles, causing them not to retain moisture effectively. Known as non-wetting sands, this soil type has low fertility and uneven moisture levels, which creates inconsistent crop establishment and poor productivity. Growers have discovered, though, that the moisture from the previous crops’ root system holds the key to consistent moisture. To counter the soils' negative effects, growers have devised different planting methods to exploit this moisture.

Exploiting Moisture

The methods achieving positive outcomes in non-wetting soils are edge-row and on-row sowing and soil wetting agents. Soil wetting agents (wetters) are applied to reduce the effects of repellence and improve infiltration. On-row or edge-row seeding is designed to target the moisture pathways established by the previous year's crops. Edge-row sowing is where growers place the seed right up against the furrow of the old crop stubble. On-row sowing has the seed being set directly into the furrow itself.

In a three-year study (2017-2019) by the University of South Australia, the impact of precise implement guidance of the seeder/planter was well documented. “Seeder based strategies for reducing the impact of water repellence can deliver large benefits on crop establishment and productivity in terms of grain yield” (Desboilles, Jack, et al.). This independent study shows that crops utilizing the on-row technique have access to four times more surface water and had a yield increase of up to 30%. It also indicates that machine guidance has a significant advantage over wetters for on-row or edge row sowing. The crop establishment and yield benefits with wetters on inter-row sowing were not as great as those delivered with on-row seeding–even without a wetter. (See study for details.)

Need For Precision - ProTrakker

To ensure the seeds are placed directly into or right next to the furrow, exact precision is needed. ProTrakker Guidance Systems has excellent solutions to achieve repeatable and precise edge-row and on-row sowing. The ability to be accurate with all your passes is what makes these two sowing methods work. ProTrakker Hydraulic Hitches are designed to be compatible with different control options, giving growers the flexibility to decide what advanced guidance technology works best for them. ProTrakker works with the leading GPS providers, including John Deere, Trimble, Raven, and Homburg Holland for AgLeader.

Farmers incorporating this planting practice with ProTrakker Guidance Systems have witnessed fewer expenses, better plant emergence, and optimal yields–increasing their ROI.

For more information about the benefits of ProTrakker implement guidance systems, visit



Desboilles, Jack, et al. “Seeder-based Approaches to Reduce the Impact of Water Repellence on Crop Productivity.” Grains Research & Development Corporation, 11 Feb. 2020, Western Australian University. Accessed 11 November 2020.

Davies, Stephen, Jeremy Lemon, and David Hull. “Soil Water Repellence – The Science.” Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, 1 May 2018, Government of Western Australia.,1. Accessed 11 November 2020.