While fall strip-till was tough to do during the wet conditions in 2008, it paid off with better corn yields in 2009, says Kelly Cooper, farm manager for the Conservation Cropping Systems Proejct.
Cooper managers on-farm research near Forman, N.D., where different tillage systems are compared in growing crops including corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and cover crops.
In the 2009 trial comparing five hybrids head to head in strip-till and no-till after soybeans, strip-till yields ranged from 171.2 to 191.8 bushels per acre, while no-till yields ranged from 147 to 180.6 bushels per acre. Strip-tilled corn averaged 179.6 bushels per acre, while no-tilled corn averaged 162 bushels per acre.
Wet conditions during the 2008 harvest delayed strip-tilling.
“I decided to wait for the ground to partially freeze up before strip-tilling,” Cooper says. “This does not give a very big window of time to get the work done, but we were successful. May people have done strip-tilling in the spring as well.”
Cooper says he would like to try freshen up a strip in the spring.
“Getting the soil dried out enough to plant is a struggle with excess moisture and all of us have battled this for the last couple of springs,” Cooper says.
“Many farmers are using some type of minimal disturbance implement. It would be my hope that if needed, the strip-till machine could be used to lightly stir and dry out the strips where seeding could be done in a short time period. Running the strip-till machine shallow and fast should take little fuel and not take too much time.”