2nd Strip-Till Operational Benchmark Study: Cover Crop Use Spreads for Strip-Tillers

Strip-till corn populations remain consistent, while soybean seeding rates decline and use of twin-row systems increases.

Timing, width and depth are all considerations strip-tillers take into account when building berms on their farm for seeding, the 2nd annual Strip-Till Operational Benchmark Study found.

Flexibility is often an asset as well. Some 34.9% of respondents to this year’s survey build strips in both spring and fall — a 5% increase over 2014.

The most popular time to build berms continued to be fall, with 38.6% of strip-tillers doing so after harvest — that’s down from 42% last year. The percentage of spring strip-tillers remained virtually the same at 30.7% this year, compared to 29% in 2014.

On average, farmers are building berms at the same depth, 7 inches, in this year’s survey as in 2014. But the average width of strips increased from 8 inches to 9 inches, year-over-year.

Also, there were fewer farmers who said they make a strip-freshening pass in the spring, with 7.3% doing so according to this year’s survey, compared to 10.7% in 2014. The same held true with the percentage of farmers who said they sometimes refresh strips in spring, dropping from 25% last year to 19.3% in the 2015 survey.

Taking Cover

Both first-hand comments from farmers and data from this year’s survey shows cover crops are an increasingly popular option in strip-till systems.

In 2014, 48.4% of strip-tillers said they planted cover crops in strip-tilled fields, an increase over the 44.1% who did so in 2013.

While these figures don’t yet compare to the 70% of no-tillers who planted covers…

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Jack Zemlicka

Jack Zemlicka was the Technology Editor for No-Till Farmer. His coverage included precision farming practices, products and trends, which can improve efficiency and productivity for no-till farmers.

He joined Lessiter Publications Ag Division in 2012 and also served as managing editor of Strip-Till Farmer.

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