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Spre - STS Striving For Strip-Till Perfection In Continuous Corn

Striving For Strip-Till Perfection In Continuous Corn

By Dan Zinkand

Dave Nelson strip-tilling corn

CONTINUOUS SUCCESS. Strip-tilling continuous corn creates better seed-to-soil contact, emergence and stand uniformity, says Iowa strip-tiller Dave Nelson, president of Brokaw Supply Co., Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Proper strip-till equipment is important to handle residue in corn-on-corn, says Dave Nelson, a strip-tiller and president of Brokaw Supply Co., Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Nelson constantly modifies equipment to get the best soil conditions and results.

"Last spring, we prototyped the last version of the Yetter Manufacturing's Maverick strip-till row unit with the vertical-tillage attachment," he says. "We found it freshens up the fall strips and makes for a near-perfect seedbed.

"In one pass, we're also incorporating another application of nitrogen. We believe in feeding corn with split applications of nitrogen so the plant can utilize every bit of nitrogen."

Growing corn-on-corn is especially complicated because of the vast amount of residue left after harvest, says Nelson. Accelerating the breakdown of residue is the primary concern.

"The most common way of dealing with residue in our area is to bury it with intensive tillage, which means many trips across the field," Nelson says. "When the residue is buried, it doesn't decompose because of the lack of oxygen and microbial activity."

Strip-till manages the residue on the ground, where it can break down more quickly, which Nelson says leaves a "pure black strip of dirt" where the corn can germinate and grow.

Dave Nelson prototypeFRESHENING UP. Last spring, Iowa strip-tiller Dave Nelson tested a prototype of Yetter Manufacturing's Maverick row units with vertical-tillage attachments to freshen up strips made in the fall of 2010 in corn-on-corn ground.

In fields where residue has been tilled and mixed into the soil, the result is allelopathy, which decreases yields.

"When that corn cob or piece of residue doesn't decompose underground, you've just created a tough environment for the corn seedling," Nelson says. "In strip-till, we have the pure, black strip of soil, with residue left on the surface between the rows.

"We're in our second year of corn-on-corn in one field and are seeing great results."

Nelson was very pleased with how the strip-tilled corn-on-corn looked this summer.

"If you didn't know they were corn-on-corn fields, you could not tell from the road," he says. "There's a near-perfect stand and very even plant height. Look for more corn-on-corn acres on our farm in the years to come."

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