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Need another term for farming "tramlines"

HareBrain

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The accepted term for the double lines in a crop-field, kept bare by the wheels of the farmer's spraying vehicles (etc), is "tramlines". But that's likely to be confusing to readers, and my suburban teenage characters are unlikely to know it. What can I use instead? The term is used a lot, so it needs to be two words at most, and it's only ever used to refer to one of these lines, not the pair. There are no tyre impressions or anything, just bare dirt, so "ruts" etc wouldn't be accurate. Any ideas? I'm hoping there's something obvious and easy that just hasn't occurred to me or my writing group.
 

sknox

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Maybe you don't need another word. Maybe use that word and have someone explain it to someone else, or use it in a description that makes the meaning clear. Do a quick reminder explanation further along and you should be good.

Some of your readers are probably misunderstanding words you think don't need explanation. There's no winning that one. As I often tell people in relation to this topic, I managed as a kid to read all of The Island of Dr Moreau without ever understanding the word vivisection (this was in the Time Before Internet). But I still understood the book.
 

dannymcg

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Yeah, as suggested, stick with tramlines. It's obvious enough in the context.
Your teenage characters will no doubt say "those bare bits, like tramlines" a couple of times and then shorten it to 'the tramlines'

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Abernovo

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Ah, tramlines. One of my professors famously asked us in a lecture how many had seen the film Gladiator, "and a very good film it was, but did any of you see the obvious error?"

*Pause*

"No one? Well, I'm pretty [redacted] sure the Romans didn't Massey Fergusons or a John Deere so, those tramlines..."

What? I was part of the Agricultural Department. Anyway, back on point, how about plough lines? Not quite accurate, but you could deduce the lines might be made by machinery, and come to the conclusion they were made at ploughing. Usually they're made by planting machinery, but it's not a huge jump.

Or planting lines, i.e. the lines between plantings of crops.
 

Cat's Cradle

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I'd think suburban kids who don't know farming terminology would choose just the most obvious, descriptive, easy label for something they didn't know; if they were to label a tramline (as opposed to just saying - assuming the crops are fairly mature - "Let's follow this path."), they'd likely give it a name that comes from their own interpretation of what the tramline must be.

So, whether there are tyre marks or not, they might call one of the tramlines a tyre path, tyre channel, tyre trail, tyre line, wheel furrow, driving furrow. I'd expect the name they give tramlines to be somewhat awkward, quickly chosen, and chosen for its ease of use in conversation.

Also, in the country where I live communities with trams aren't that common nowadays (it's mostly big cities that have them). Not sure if the kids in your story have grown up in a town with trams? If not, they'd possibly be more likely to think of rail lines, than tramlines (in case you do have one of the kids explaining the lines looking like tramlines). A few thoughts - it's 5am here, so they may not be cogent thoughts.

edit to add: almost any teen should know what a tractor is, and might connect tire trails in a field to tractors (rather than, say, threshers or sprayers). I'd think something like tractor trail, or tractor path would come right to mind, especially if the crops are even moderately mature (when just plowed a field is a field, and the tramlines aren't that distinguishable). Okay, bedtime, not rambling time. I hope someone here can help, HB! CC
 
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-K2-

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My suggestion was what @sknox suggested... That said, @Cat's Cradle suggestion of using the word 'path' (which is how they would seem to non-farmers) would work UNTIL they are corrected early on. Another option, if there are tire tracks in the ruts, might be what we call similar looking roads in the U.S., two-track(s). They're very common in rural and wilderness areas, the term well known with most people.




After being educated, your characters using the word 'tramline' could be used to make a point that they learned something.

K2
 
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TheDustyZebra

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what we call similar looking roads in the U.S., two-track(s).
We do?

I've never heard of either that or "tramlines". If it's the thing in K2's picture, we'd call it either a "road" or a "driveway" here, depending on whether it leads to one house or multiple.

Furrow, to me, is the trench for planting seeds in, not the path the wheels beat down.
 

Parson

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I'm 100% a country boy and I have never heard the term "Tramline" in reference to farming --- a U.K. term perhaps?

Around here they would be called wheel ruts.

Wheel ruts
 

Culhwch

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Tramlines? That's a funny name. In Australia, we call them chuzwozzas.

In all seriousness, though, I feel your pain. I feel like I hit this kind of problem regularly.

Not that it's likely to be much use, but I'd probably just call it a track.
 

Alex The G and T

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The OP asked specifically about the spacing between row crops; about double spacing between furrows where the tractor wheels track.

The picture of a jeep trail and the inaccessible link about "Wheel Ruts" are a lovely digression.

The term "furrow" includes a high strip, where the seeding occurs and a low strip where water flows and tractor tyres avoid crushing the plants.

I doubt that average "suburban teenager," referenced in the OP, or any other non-agrarian reader, is going to be thinking much about the finer points of which part of the furrow has seeds, and which part has tractor wheels in it.

I maintain that "furrow" is the more universally recognizable term for the lines between row-crops.
 

Mr Orange

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The OP asked specifically about the spacing between row crops; about double spacing between furrows where the tractor wheels track.
The OP actually asked about
The accepted term for the double lines in a crop-field, kept bare by the wheels of the farmer's spraying vehicles (etc), is "tramlines".
I read this as not being gaps between furrows but tracks of a long arm spraying vehicle in a crop field such as wheat:



at the risk if being overly simplistic, can't you just call them tracks? maybe explain them in a bit more depth the first time ("the deep tracks in the wheat made by the farmer's spraying tractor") and then just... tracks?

if the readers are suburban teens they're going to come up with whatever image they want anyway.

Edit: if the characters are country folk who would use slang such as tramline, then this could also be used with a bit of explanation to start with
 

-K2-

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Tramlines...
(and I'm from the country both the deep south and northern Midwest... and I never heard the term either until this thread. Although, I've not been associated of a working farm for some time):




The point of them... supposedly, is to avoid crop damage while performing late season spraying, fertilizing, and ultimately harvesting in what would be typically inaccessible fields ( high crops like corn, although, they're suggesting using them for even low crops that can be passed over).

Anyone who came from a rural community with small scale farming likely knows how many single family farm's budgets falls to pennies at the end of the year and often determine being in the red or black. So, what I gather from reading up on it is that the method is suggested to save more pennies by reducing crop loss.

And yes @TheDustyZebra ; we do ;) Though granted, Colorado may not be as developed as East of the Mississippi :whistle:

Whoops, @Mr Orange ; you beat me by a minute!


K2
 

Alex The G and T

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Ah, yes, now I see what y'all are talking about.

My neighborhood has a lot of beef and timber in the mountains, and some dairy on the river delta and a little bit of truck-farming in the bottomlands of the narrow river valleys. We don't know from a tramline. Sounds more like a Yarder Rig than a Crop Circle, in this neck of the woods.

I'll be very interested to see if anyone comes up with a widely recognized term which elicits this ^^ sort of image.

Beats me.
 
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sknox

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And, just to reiterate what I said before, you simply cannot assume any one reader is going to understand (or misunderstand) any particular word. Consider how many different cultures, levels of education, levels of paying attention to that particular sentence, plus whether the book is in text or spoken aloud.

Make it clear to yourself first. Then see what your beta readers or editor(s) trip over, and adjust. Then send the little darling out into the wide world and accept the bumps and dings that will inevitably follow.

I never heard the word either. Chances are, I'd just read right past it unless it was crucial to the plot, in which case I'd wonder why the author didn't explain it. If it wasn't crucial, I'd shrug and let it go.
 

dannymcg

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Leave it in without explanation, like Stephen King did with "a shootoff in a haymow"
 

Cat's Cradle

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I have a new word - in the excellent pictures K2 posted, those aerial shots, the tramlines look like seams in giant fields of fabric - rough silk and denim. Course, the kids wouldn't know that, unless they came to the fields from high ground.

I try to be a dancer, @Alex The G and T, and yours was a gracious way of acknowledging it. ;)
 

Ursa major

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The accepted term for the double lines in a crop-field, kept bare by the wheels of the farmer's spraying vehicles (etc), is "tramlines".
Who is/are your PoV/s? Would the PoV/s know the term?

Would it be useful if a character mentioned tramlines to a character who didn't know what it meant and who had to ask? Or would it help if, when the term was first mentioned in the narrative, the narrator/PoV character pondered why a term based on a mainly** urban phenomenon is used so widely in the countryside?


As an aside, this meaning of tramline (one I've never heard before) seems to be absent from both Wikipedia and Wiktionary. Someone ought to add it to at least the latter.


** - In the UK, we used to have light railways that were called tramways, such as the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway (which closed as "recently" as 1966).
 
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