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I am looking for a good translation of the German word "Fahrgasse." It describes the tracks a tractor leaves on a farm field. Usually parallel and evenly distributed, these tracks are used every time a farmer makes a pass over their growing field. In my technical dictionary, I found "tramline," but that does not seem to be used.

EDIT: These tracks are really tramlines as @Harry Gray describes them below: intentionally planned and left blank, so no crops are planted or flattened there. They are used and reused throughout the growing season for any cultivation measures needed on the field.

I am attaching a picture to show what I mean:

"Fahrgassen" in a field

Click the image for full-size

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    Note that tramline is track only in the sense of the railroad (or in the UK, railway), the parallel rails. Commented Nov 11, 2023 at 3:35
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    @Paul, I've heard tramlines used figuratively in this sense for such pairs of parallel wheelmarks without any confusion with literal rails. We certainly used it on the farm where I grew up in Yorkshire (long before I ever saw an actual tram!) Commented Nov 11, 2023 at 11:39
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    @TobySpeight, Cool. Maybe it’s a British-ism that had escaped this Yank’s acquaintance. Commented Nov 11, 2023 at 12:13
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    @R.M., I am asking for the "road" the farmer has planned for the tractor.
    – Karina
    Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 20:13
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    Googling "designing paths for tractors in a field" also brings up "AB lines" (primarily) and "traveler alleyways" (minimally) as terms connected to the science of field traffic pattern planning. Interesting stuff! Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 12:22

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As a literal translation, "fahrgasse" would roughly translate into English as "narrow tracks left after driving" - which I would render as "wheel tracks".

However, I am not sure what type of document you are referencing (however, you mentioned using a technical dictionary). As well, it may matter which version of English you are translating into - UK, US, etc.

I'm glad you uploaded a picture to clarify what you mean.

I would use "tracks", "wheel tracks", or "tractor wheel tracks".

However, if these tracks are part of a "controlled traffic farming" scheme, then they may be called "tramlines" or "controlled traffic lanes".

Consider these two references: https://www.agriculture.com/machinery/farm-implements/sprayers/tramlines-boost-row-crop-field_230-ar34724

https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/soil-compaction/developing-controlled-traffic-tramline-farming-system

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    This is so helpful! Thanks! I am translating into American English, but it seems the concept of controlled-traffic farming or tramlining is new to U.S. farmers. In Germany, it has been around forever.
    – Karina
    Commented Nov 11, 2023 at 14:07
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    @Karina Of course, in translating, if the concept itself is unfamiliar to the audience, you might want to add some explanation, perhaps in a translator's footnote or parentheses. Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 13:21
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If you're talking about grooves or depressions that are created by the tractor often passing over the same ground, the best word is ruts.

EDIT: After the question was edited to include a picture, I'm going to say there's no ideal one-word English translation. "Rut" implies a significant depression in the ground, like erosion but linear. The picture shows tracks where crops are flattened, and could have been made in a single pass.

You used the word "track" several times in your question, and I think that's as close as English can get. Meaning simply "an impression made by something as it passed," whether animal footprints or the lines of tires. It would be reasonable to call the picture "tractor tracks."

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  • If you check tractors and ruts, I think you will see that doesn't work.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 21:20
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    I agree that this is probably the word most commonly used - I'd say something like "I walked along the ruts that the tractor had left during the last harvest" Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 21:20
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    BUT I think it's worth mentioning that "ruts" aren't exclusive to tractors. They're any depression in the ground that has been made over time (but not by water). I don't think English has a common term just for this Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 21:22
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    My family consists of many farmers, and rut is, by far, the term we'd most commonly use. As noted, this term is not defined specifically for this purpose and is not exclusive to tractor wheels, but it's quite rare to be in a situation where it's not obvious which rut you're talking about. In the unlikely case you'd need to explicitly distinguish, we'd use the phrase wheel rut. That said, rut implies a physical depression, and not just a path. If we're just talking about the vegetation being worn away, and there is no discernable depression, then we'd use the term path or tractor path. Commented Nov 11, 2023 at 19:19
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    tipsnotebook.deere.com/repair-ruts-or-tire-tracks No, not ruts.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 16:53
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"Tractor tracks" would seem to be a fairly simple descriptive phrase:

By entering fields on existing tractor tracks and paths, crop circle creators can help to disguise how the crop circle got there. (Telegraph 2 Aug 2013)

This would be appropriate whether they are planned and created intentionally or not. (I'm not an arable farmer, but it seems to me that such tracks are used multiple times. The farmer will use the same tracks when harvesting as when planting, to avoid damage to the crop)

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You're correct tramline is the the right term for them, for Britain and Ireland that is, they are used for spraying and fertilising and are incorporated into the field by design when drilling so no crop is planted in those strips to avoid wasting seed, they will also be referred to as ruts post harvest as if they will get compacted & make a bit of a dip and will launch you out of your seat if you hit one at speed

"Furrows" are purely from ploughing, "Tractor tracks" would describe the access route to a field or wheel marks left by movement and not by design,

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    Fair enough, although a few periods might be nice.
    – CDR
    Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 2:39
  • Interesting. I've never heard of this, and I wonder if that's because I'm American, or because it's simply not known outside of farming. Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 5:12
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    @JamesK, a Google search for tramline farming brings up a number of articles on controlled traffic (tramline) farming systems. One guide I glanced through was from 2004, so it may be a fairly recent use of the word.
    – Peter
    Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 23:39
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    @JamesK see bcpc.org/latest-news/tramline-thinking perhaps
    – mdewey
    Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 14:29
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    Tramline is also the word I'd use, as a non-farmer who grew up in rural Yorkshire. I wouldn't say it was a technical term, but I wouldn't expect someone with no connection to the land at all to know it either.
    – Jack B
    Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 21:49
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tractor traces would be another possibility. A trace is a mark left by something that has passed over a surface, and trace has the further connotation that the path chosen was intentional, not random. Merriam-Webster offers the definition "a path, trail, or road made by the passage of animals, people, or vehicles".

The farmer kept his tractor on the well-worn traces.

P.S. I upvoted tractor tracks because it would be immediately understood, which is an important virtue, though it might not be immediately understood as the reused pathways through a planted field. Tractor tracks could be marks in the mud on a rural lane. tractor traces stands a better chance of being understood as the evenly spaced paths in a planted field, absent additional description.

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    I could be wrong but... IMHO, a trace implies a certain lightness (of touch), or a delicate/faint line. Whereas tractors (and animals and people) are heavy and certainly do not leave a light mark behind them. So using "trace" for a tractor seems pretty incongruous. Plus, I don't think I've ever heard of "animal traces" (apart from snails). Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 17:49
  • Both of you have good points. Think of traces like in circuit boards. They are drawn intentionally and efficiently. However, "tracing their finger on the board" implies gracefulness. With the picture that OP supplied, it appears more "deliberate" and "graceful" than "driving a fourwheeler through mud". Also, from a larger scale (like in the picture), the tractor's non-delicate marks disappear.
    – Stev
    Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 21:54
  • @Greenonline You're focusing on only one meaning of trace. See the Merriam-Webster definition, which refers to a "road". A road is not faint and delicate.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 21:54

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