Ridge-Till Vs. Strip-Tilling

From 1991 until 1996, our publishing company produced a newsletter called Ridge-Till Hotline that was similar to what we were doing with No-Till Farmer. While the response to this paid newsletter was favorable, by the mid 1990s we didn’t feel the ridge-till acres were going to continue to grow. So we halted publication, much to the regret of many die-hard ridge-tillers.

For years, ridge-tillers had complained that no-tillers bad-mouthed this system. The biggest complaint was the fact that ridge-tillers relied on cultivation for weed control while no-tillers preferred chemical control. No-tillers also saw ridge-till needing more labor, cultivation taking place when hay should be harvested, and not being an effective tillage system choice for acreage expansion.

After strip-till got its start in the late 1980s and early 1990s, ridge-tillers began to wonder why no-tillers were quick to accept many of the ideas they hadn’t liked about ridge-tilling.

Here are a few ridge-till ideas that are used with strip-till.

Controlled Traffic

Ridge-tillers ran tractor, planter and combine tires in the same field paths year after year, thus reducing compaction concerns. Tractors and combines were equipped with extended axles in order to line up similar tire paths. There were also mechanical guidance devices that kept planter row units in the center of the ridge.

Then GPS came along and made controlling traffic, and precise fertilizer and plant placement in strip-tilled berms, much easier.

Banding Fertilizer

Ridge-tillers banded nutrients in the ridge or close to it for maximum usage by corn and…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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