Strip-till systems remove residue from the soil surface over the seedbed, resulting in soil temperatures similar to conventional tillage systems. No-till systems leave residue on the soil surface over the seedbed and soil temperatures are often several degrees lower than in tilled soil.

Research by the University of Minnesota Extension in southern Minnesota shows an aggressive strip-till machine can clear away sufficient residue to promote soil warming similar to moldboard plowing in a continuous corn rotation (Table 2). In a corn-soybean rotation, soil temperatures were similar for strip till and chisel plow and lower for no till (Table 3).

Similarly, research in the Red River Valley (Prosper, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn.) in 2007 indicated comparable temperatures between conventional tillage and strip till.

The soil temperature advantage with strip till compared with no till allows faster plant emergence and development. This advantage is enhanced when soil temperatures are lower and approach the lower threshold for crop seed germination.

For example, early planted strip-till corn or soybeans likely will emerge quicker than in a no-till system. Earlier plant establishment normally increases crop yield and quality by extending the growth.

Earlier emergence and stand establishment also promotes quicker crop canopy closure, reducing mid- and late-season weed seed germination and providing a better chance for young plants to establish and withstand disease and insect pressure with minimal damage.

Table 2. Soil temperatures using several different tillage operations in continuous corn, Jeffers, Minn. 

Soil Temperatures at Planting, °F

  

Tillage 2006 2007
Moldboard plow 65.3 55.7
Disk ripped 62.3 54.7
Strip till 65.4 54.2

 

Table 3.Soil temperatures at planting using different tillage operations in soybean/corn rotation, Jeffers, Minn. 

Soil Temperatures at Planting, °F

Tillage 2006 2007
Chisel plow 57.7 69.1
No till 55.8 64.9
Strip till 58.9 71.5

 

Effects on soil moisture

Strip tillage conserves soil moisture by trapping winter snow and reducing evaporation and transpiration loss, resulting in more soil moisture available for plants, particularly later in the growing season during the critical plant reproductive stages.