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Dean Fehl has been no-tilling soybeans on his LaPorte, Iowa, farm since 1989. About 6 years ago, he began strip-tilling corn.
To successfully alternate the systems, he maintains that you need a heavy-duty planter, an adequate strip-till toolbar and a good sprayer.
Fehl uses a 16-row Deere 1780 planter with interplant units to no-till soybeans in 15-inch rows with a single coulter mounted ahead of each unit. With corn, he adds trash whippers or coulters, depending on the condition of the soil.
He utilizes a 16-row DMI toolbar with markers and injects liquid fertilizer with his anhydrous ammonia applications. “A good, modern toolbar will give you good strips for corn,” he says.
The east central Iowa no-tiller advocates using a great deal of down pressure when seeding soybeans. “You need a lot to get adequate planting depth and uniformity,” he says.
Fehl believes that planting depth and timing are keys to successfully no-tilling soybeans. This means effectively monitoring both soil moisture and temperature on a daily basis during the critical no-till planting season.
Fehl begins strip-tilling as soon as field conditions allow and uses minimal down pressure while no-tilling corn. If conditions are good, he will no-till corn in mid April, although that is usually pushing the limit.
Fehl started strip-tilling corn because he wanted a more consistent, drier and warmer seedbed. While strip-tilled soil can be 5 to 10 degrees warmer than no-tilled soil, the temperature increase will depend on the amount of residue, since most…