IMAGE: Dr Tim Chamen (left) receiving his EurAgEng Award of Merit – Innovation into Practice award from Dr. Boris Kettelhoit (CLAAS) industry representative on the EurAgEng Executive committee. (Photo – Andreas Hermann)
In November 2023, at LAND.TECHNIK-AgEng conference in Hanover, Germany, the EurAgEng Award of Merit – Innovation into Practice was awarded to Dr Tim Chamen for developing and promoting controlled traffic farming (CTF) as a practical farm-scale tool for avoiding compaction damage to soils. Tim is a long-term friend and associate of ACTFA and a number of ACTFA Board members and has visited Australia frequently for both work and personal reasons; and he has always contributed to CTF adoption when here, including at least two presentations to CTF conferences plus other industry workshops.
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. The award is a significant recognition for the work that Tim has done in the CTF space.
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 him running a project to develop a 12m wide experimental gantry-tractor before he left in 1996.
He has since worked independently for a range of organisations including machinery manufacturers, the EU and other public and private funders and organisations, 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, Tim’s focus was resolutely on ensuring that the benefits seen in the research were adapted to practical systems and commercial farms. He has always been committed to transferring and translating research information to farmers and explaining farmers’ issues to researchers; and he’s successfully pushed for adoption of CTF systems based on current equipment for Europe, where traffic regulations (and narrow roads) have ruled out the simpler 3m CTF systems used here. This approach has supported effective research as well as CTF adoption by farmers.
At the same time, Tim has always maintained his interest and enthusiasm for wide-span gantries, recognising the many advantages they bring to CTF, particularly in situations where matching and transport of conventional machinery is problematic. His consistent advocacy has probably been a significant factor underlying the development of the NEXAT wide-span unit; and without his enthusiasm, passion and inspiration, it’s unlikely there would be any Controlled Traffic Farming on farms and fields across Europe.