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Strip Away No-TIll Corn Challenges

This farmer says strip-till turned troublesome no-till corn into a highly consistent money-making opportunity.

No-tillers in the Corn Belt have different opinions about different practices. But one thing no one will disagree about is no-till corn, and how much more effort this crop takes to produce when compared to no-tilling soybeans.

Ray Bardole has been there. This no-tiller from Rippey, Iowa, didn’t want to give up on no-till corn. But at the same time, he thought the yields of his no-till corn could be better. So he decided to try a different approach. Strip-till. And the yields he now harvests are better than what he originally achieved.

Getting Started

“When I first switched to no-till, I observed several things,” Bardole notes. “One was that no-till corn comes up slowly and grows more inconsistently than conventional corn.”

While this observation didn’t bother Bardole, he was concerned about what his landlords might think.

“We farm 1,600 acres and we only own 320 acres,” he says. “When all the neighbor’s corn is in beautiful corn rows and mine isn’t quite there, it really makes the landlords nervous.”

The desire to please landlords and boost yields made Bardole decide to explore other possibilities, particularly strip-till.

“We’re all about growing better no-till corn yields,” he says. “So we got a Progressive strip-till unit. It’s a relatively heavy-depth, front-fold machine.”

Bardole says the unit has given his farm a minimal amount of trouble and he’s pulling it with an old 4880 Massey-Ferguson tractor. One drawback, however, was a $38,000 price tag for the strip-till rig.

“It gives us deep-tilled soil…

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