Could You Reap Advantage from Fall Strip-Till?

Answer may depend upon your crop rotation.

Published on: Nov 3, 2010
Strip-till has grown in popularity until major manufacturers now offer strip-till rigs for fall tillage and fertilizer application operations. One of the latest is the Gladiator, a tool so unique Krause gave it a name rather than just a number. It's whole purpose is designed around fall operations to deep inject fertilizer and clear off strips for planting next spring. While the strips may be slightly raised, they are not nearly as tall as the original ridge-till farmers made more than two decades ago.

Another company, Dawn, now even offers add-ons for strip –till systems that need extra help clearing dirt from the mechanism that rolls soil over and out of row area in the back. Obviously, this is a process that won't work well in wet soils or under wet conditions. Dawn's simple inventions are plastic pieces that bolt on to the closing wheels over the row, helping disperse the soil and keeping it spread out properly.

In Indiana, Tony Vyn, a Purdue University Extension tillage specialist, looks back on 20 years of strip-till research by he and former faculty staff members. "It's an ideal system to give corn farmers additional flexibility than in an undisturbed no-till situation, especially for situations when corn follows corn or corn follows winter wheat," Vyn says.

However, when you compare apples to apples, strip-till systems don't produce higher yields in corn after soybeans when all tillage systems are planted on the same date, he notes. The underlying assumption is that good management will be applied to both systems. Put another way, if you plant corn after strip-till or no-till into past soybean stubble on the same day, you shouldn't expect to see a yield boost for the strip-till corn over the no-till corn.

The advantage, Vyn says, even in corn after beans, is when quicker drying over the strip allows you to plant earlier in strip-till than in no-till systems. One drawback to no-till, especially on flat, black, naturally poorly drained soils, is that those soils tend to warm up more slowly.

This should be a good fall to strip-till, assuming your equipment penetrates properly, Vyn notes. However, he cautions that since you're likely forming strips much earlier than normal, the berms, the bumps, what are now there instead of ridges, will have more time to settle before spring. Make sure you run your strip till equipment so that you have high-enough berms left next spring to achieve the advantage in warm-up that you intend to get.