To address the progressive increase in farmed land and the decline in labor, cotton production in more developed agricultural systems has seen a movement towards larger, heavier machinery with increased capacity. Recent innovation of on-board module building technology for cotton harvesters follows this trend, which has caused concern for the potential impact of the machine on the farming system. This review acknowledges past and present developments within the cotton harvesting system from both the machine- and soil-management perspectives to inform land managers, machinery manufacturers, technical advisors, and the scientific community of the incidence of soil compaction associated with technology uptake in cotton-based systems. Emphasis is made on the need to ensure that the effects of traffic-induced soil compaction are minimized. For this, the feasibility of confining compaction to the least possible area of permanent traffic lanes is examined along with engineering design constraints of commercially available cotton pickers. Fundamental information is elicited, which provided insights as to why this movement has occurred and how associated problems might be addressed. Within the Australia context, these cotton harvesters have undergone rapid adoption. This review uses this case-study to elucidate direct and latent impacts of the machine to help identify risks and develop management strategies as further technology is developed and adopted. Knowledge gaps that merit a research priority within soil compaction work for cotton-based systems are presented and a synthesis of how to proceed conceptualized.