Strip-tilling helps manage residue, increase continuous-corn yields and protect the soil, say four Iowa strip-tillers and an ag retailer who have been using the system for years.
“We like fall strip-till better than spring strip-till,” says Jim Wagner, who farms with his brother, Tom, near Primghar.
The Wagners and strip-tillers Don Ver Meer, Dana Sleezer and ag retailer Craig Struve were panelists at an Iowa State University strip-till field day last summer that drew 175 farmers.
“The biggest reason to strip-till is residue management,” Tom Wagner says. “The longer we no-tilled soybeans, the more residue we had and we really didn’t want to work up soybean stubble well enough to be able to plant corn. You can field cultivate it once or twice, but you still can have beaver mounds and soil warm-up problems.
“With strip-till, there’s 8 to 10 inches of black soil. Strip-till is a way to manage residue rather than fight it.”
The Wagners no-till soybeans on 30-inch rows and strip-till corn. They have a Blu-Jet strip-till bar with a mole knife, coulter residue managers, curving discs and rolling baskets.
When strip-tilling in the fall, the brothers apply anhydrous ammonia. They broadcast phosphate and potash using variable-rate application. For corn after soybeans, they apply 140 to 150 pounds of total nitrogen.
The Wagners want to strip-till in the fall. Last fall, they stopped harvesting corn long enough to strip-till while the soil conditions were suitable.
“Residue was a challenge with conventional tillage this spring,” Tom…