Best Practices For Pulling Implements Over Sloped Terrain

Odebolt, IA (April 24, 2023) – There are a lot of variables that go into keeping farm implements on their intended path, especially when dealing with sloped, troublesome terrain and strip-till/no-till considerations. As the saying goes, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” Even the most experienced growers would agree, there is always something in the field that can be improved upon, and implement guidance accuracy ranks toward the top of that priority list. 

In a previous Strip-Till Famer article, West Brooklyn, Illinois, farmer Dave Delhotal noted how beneficial implement steering is on a strip-till farm that features hilly terrain and contours. Since 2012, Dave and his father Ray have been utilizing various passive and active implement steering systems to improve their operation’s accuracy by strip-tilling corn and no-tilling soybeans.

Cited in the same article, ProTrakker president Cory Miller discussed that payback on technology investments can be seen on any ground, and not just land with more than its share of rolling hills and slopes. “Rougher terrain and hills do make implement steering more important, but we’ve sold a lot of systems to farmers on very flat terrain as well because the bigger the implement, the harder it is to keep on a defined path,” says Miller. “Even on flat ground, you’ll see a fair amount of draft with wider planters and strip-till machines because of the drag.”

While the latest equipment and technology help tremendously, when it comes to fine-tuning an operation destined for hills, ensuring that tractors have the precise ballast is an integral part of achieving optimum traction and reducing soil compaction. 

“Managing the ballast and tire inflation pressures can maximize traction, minimize compaction, increase the life of the tractor drivetrain, and increase productivity,” says Dave Paulk, manager of field technical services at BKT USA, Inc. Additional tire checks and ballasting steps can be taken as outlined in this Successful Farming article.  

Additionally, by calculating the target total tractor weight, farmers can better prepare for varied field terrain and conditions. The following chart from Successful Farming outlines tractor weight per horsepower.

Ballasting tractors can be a complex process, but fortunately, there are quite a few online resources to assist growers. Scott Sloan, Ag Product Manager/Global LSW for Titan International, Inc. (Manufacturer of Titan and Goodyear Farm Tires), noted in a Farm Equipment article: “The end game is trying to minimize tire slippage when you head to the field. Between inflation pressure and ballasting you will have your tractor performing at its most efficient.”

Regardless of the steps farmers take prior to entering the field, a successful planting season leading to a profitable harvest can depend partially on the drift with row crops, encounters with side slopes, curved terrain, and varying soil compositions. With precision guidance technology, growers can ensure that their tractors and equipment stay on the same path year after year. That’s where the line of industry-leading implement guidance systems from ProTrakker can help. 

For more information about ProTrakker hydraulic hitches and guidance control options, visit