Strip-till and vertical tillage have received lots of press lately. People who aren't quite ready for total no-till, or who believe no-till isn't 100% right for their wetter soils, are looking for ways to reduce tillage. About 10 major or short-line tool companies now offer a vertical tillage tool.
Here's one that has been on farms in Minnesota and northern states, but seldom on a farm in Indiana until this past fall. It's called the Soil Warrior, and it's sold by Environmental Tillage Systems, Inc., Fairbault, Minn.
The biggest use for the tool is to create slightly raised berms of cleared soil, with the rest of the residue left untouched, in what most people call a strip –till operation. ETS prefers to call it zone tillage. The company recommends using RTK differential signal for GPS to make sure you can return to the exact same spot in the spring and line up plant rows over the tilled zones.
What makes it unique is that Soil Warrior doesn't not use any shanks. It attains cutting action using coulters that resemble cogs in wheels. Deep fertilizer can be placed using the applicator. In fact, it can even be used to deep-place hog manure as you're running it, all in one operation.
In the spring, the cog wheels can be removed and the machine acts more like a vertical tillage tool, salesmen say. They report that some farmers are using it to freshen up the berms form the fall pass using that configuration. Others are simply running it that way to accomplish some minimal spring tillage.
If you want to learn more about Soil Warrior, ETS and their version of zone tillage, visit their Website. You can find it at: www.soilwarrior.com. Or if you prefer to speak to a live voice, call for information on the tool at: 855-332-2231.