A lot of talk in the no-till community has turned to overcoming the challenges of corn-on-corn to capitalize on the growing demand and increasing prices for the crop.
However, there is another way for no-tillers to maximize their corn yields without facing the excessive residue and possible yield drag of continuous corn, according to Clay Mitchell. He suggests no-tillers consider strip-intercropping corn and soybeans to boost corn production while maintaining the advantages of a two-crop rotation.
Mitchell, of Buckingham, Iowa, is widely known as a leading-edge no-tiller who has spoken numerous times at the National No-Tillage Conference. And when he talks about strip-intercropping, he speaks from experience.
He grows alternating 30-foot swaths of corn and soybeans in the same field as a way to grow more valuable corn while lessening his output of soybeans.
Mitchell, who farms 2,500 non-irrigated acres with his father, Wade, says, “We thought if we could increase our corn yield 10 percent and decrease our soybean yield 10 percent, shifting that 10 percent to the higher-value crop would be one of the most valuable management decisions we could make.”
Strip-intercropping is based on sound science, he notes. “One thing we know is that when you grow a taller crop next to a shorter crop, the taller crop intercepts more light and will yield more, and the shorter crop less,” he says.
He uses a controlled traffic system with a 12-row corn planter, a 12-row corn head, a 60-foot sprayer, a 30-foot soybean platform and…