Award of Merit – Innovation into Practice to Tim Chamen

  • The EurAgEng Award of Merit – Innovation into Practice is granted to an individual for his or her major international contribution to commercial practice and engineering innovation for the benefit of agriculture, environment, industry and/or the rural sector in Europe

This year at the LAND.TECHNIK-AgEng conference in Hanover, Germany, the EurAgEng Award of Merit – Innovation into Practice was provided to Dr Tim Chamen for developing and promoting controlled traffic farming (CTF) as a practical farm-scale tool for avoiding compaction damage to soils.

Dr Chamen has more than four decades of involvement in applied research covering aspects of soil tillage, soil compaction and equipment design and development with much of it particularly targeted at ways of avoiding compaction. This was initially through a 25-year research and development career at Silsoe Research Institute leading to Dr Chamen running a project to develop a 12 m wide experimental tractor before he left in 1996.

Since then, he has worked independently for a range of organizations including machinery manufacturers, the EU and other public and private funders and organizations, but always with the thread of avoiding compaction damage to soils. Following an increased demand for his expertise, he established CTF (Europe) Ltd in 2007. It was Dr Chamen’s work, and his active personal advocacy, that enabled and supported this phenomenal network of researchers and practitioners from all around the world to investigate and implement CTF systems.

Whilst researchers have investigated impacts on soils and the wider environment, often using non-standard machinery systems, such as gantries, to obtain research results, Dr Chamen’s focus was resolutely on ensuring that the benefits seen in the research were able to be adapted to practical systems and readily transferred to commercial farms. He therefore deliberately sought to maintain a boot in both camps and to provide a bridge to transfer and translate research information to farmers and explain the issues facing farmers to researchers. This approach has supported effective research in practice as well as implementation by farmers and equipment suppliers.

Dr Chamen’s contributions to the role that CTF has to play are manifold in showing reduced compaction and combining this with the associated reduction in input costs for time, machinery, and fuel while improving crop production and so increasing profit. Dr Chamen has ensured that there is a sound scientific underpinning to the technique and has thought through various CTF techniques so that CTF is practical and that farmers will enthusiastically adopt it when they decide that their equipment and farming system can be repositioned for economic and environmental advantages. Without his enthusiasm, passion and inspiration, there would not be Controlled Traffic Farming in practical use at so many farms and fields across Europe.