Published February 16, 2007 | By admin
Dan Towery Speaks – AgConservationSolutions, West Lafayette, Indiana
Where is strip-till being used?
Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan are the primary states where it is practiced in the eastern Corn Belt. In the western Corn Belt, it is primarily practiced in Colorado, Nebraska, and in the Texas Panhandle, on irrigated, continuous corn ground. Also a different type of strip-till, similar to a vertical tillage system, is done in the Southeast. Farmers there run a ripper about 14 in. deep, either about three weeks prior to planting or attached to the planter, and they use it on sandy Coastal Plain soils that naturally compact.
What are the benefits of strip-till?
Strip-till improves seedbed conditions (warmer and drier), which results in earlier planting and better stands; allows one-pass nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium applications; works well on continuous corn acres; improves soil quality (more organic matter, more water infiltration, more moisture available for later in the growing season); and reduces the amount of phosphorus and potassium required.
What are the drawbacks to strip-till?
The biggest problem with strip-till is the short application window. The short window in which to get strip-till done in the fall (after soils cool enough to apply nitrogen fertilizers, but before fall rains begin) is a deterrent to large farming operations. Strip-till is predominately practiced on middle-sized farms, those with 800 to 3,000 acres.
How are strip-till technologies changing the way fertilizer is being applied?
The big difference is applying nutrients in the strip and then planting directly on the strip. This is a very efficient way to apply phosphorus and potassium. However, a grower should not expect a yield increase from doing this unless the soil test indicates that the soil is low in phosphorus and potassium.
How could ag businesses benefit from a trend toward strip-till?
They could benefit by offering either strip-till toolbars or custom strip-till services, which could provide an additional income stream. In doing so, they might also increase their customer base and loyalty and the opportunity to sell more fertilizer, herbicides, seed and yield-mapping and record-keeping services.