Jermey Tuttle knows all about the benefits that strip-tillers in the Corn Belt cite about the practice, ranging from saving fuel and reducing erosion to precision placement of fertilizer.
But it’s the speed of one-pass strip-till that makes it possible for the 22,000-acre Watts Brothers Farms to keep area food packaging and production plants running 24 hours a day during the growing season.
Owned by ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston, Watts Brothers Farms provides potatoes and other vegetables that nearby Lamb Weston operations transform into french fries and other frozen foods.
“Strip-tilling started on this farm more than 12 years ago to solve a timing issue,” says Tuttle, senior crops manager for Paterson, Wash.-based Watts Brothers. “As soon as we harvest fresh peas, we need to be in that field as fast as possible to plant sweet corn.
“With conventional tillage, it might take several days and several tillage passes before you can plant sweet corn. But we can strip-till and plant in one pass.”
The farm’s typical rotation is potatoes, followed by grain corn or sweet corn in the second year. In the third year, the farm grows fresh peas, followed by double-cropped sweet corn or just peas. Then the rotation starts over with potatoes.
For alfalfa, the farm will start with a year of potatoes, then alfalfa, then go back to potatoes.
The farm grows three varieties of sweet corn: White, yellow and yellow super sweet.
Watts Brothers deploys two 16-row Orthman 1tRIPrs with attached Deere…