Strip-till financial rewards – Steve Norberg (OSU Extension)

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Published April 29, 2011 | By admin


Oregon State University Extension discusses strip-till economics




Farmers growing irrigated corn after wheat could save tens of thousands – even hundreds of thousands – of dollars by switching from conventional tillage to strip-till, says Steve Norberg, Oregon State University Extension crops specialist.


Norberg considered the long-term economics of changing to strip-till corn after wheat in a sprinkler-irrigated system vs. conventional tillage.


His assumptions factor in the life expectancy of equipment at 2,000 hours, and figure the savings after buying a strip-till rig and carrying the loan for 5 years.


Norberg estimates the total savings, after 10 years of strip-tilling 175 acres, at $66,170. For 250 acres the savings would be $122,790; and for 500 acres the savings would be $311,540.


Economics of Strip-Tillage

“The calculations illustrate how producers planting corn after wheat under a sprinkler-irrigation system would compare the savings of strip-tillage to conventional tillage,” Norberg says.


“This example assumes two things. First, that the producer exchanges a rolling stalk-chopper or turbo-till and a glyphosate application for one discing to kill volunteer wheat after wheat harvest and, second, that strip-tillage eliminates plowing, another discing, fertilizer application, cultivation and a dammer-diker operation.


Norberg says the cost of tillage and spraying used in this example came from the Malheur County, Ore., Custom Agriculture Operators in 2010.


Since no custom rate for strip-till has been established, fuel and labor costs for operating a strip-tillage unit were estimated, as was the calculated savings toward purchasing and maintaining a strip-tillage unit.


Norberg estimates the cost of a six-row, 30-inch spacing strip-till rig at $30,000, plus an additional $20,000 for RTK GPS. Yearly payments, including GPS, would be $13,192 for 5 years, for a total cost of $65,960. That includes 10% interest.


“An eight-row unit would probably be a better fit for 500 acres, but we used a six-row unit for our example,” he says. “The number of rows and the width per row of the strip-till rig must match your planter and the horsepower of your tractor.”


Reasons For Slow Strip-Till Adoption

Norberg says there are a number of reasons why growers in areas with intense irrigation have been slow to adopt reduced tillage.


“Residue can interfere with water movement in corrugates or furrows, causing irrigation-management problems, non-uniform irrigation and reduced yields. But sprinkler-irrigated areas do not have this problem,” he says. “Strip-tillage works with furrow irrigation when all the residue is removed with crops such as alfalfa and corn silage.


“Small-seeded, high-value crops require better seed-to-soil contact than large-seeded crops and require more management when considering strip-tillage.”


See the article as well as the data chart at




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