Field-by-Field Strip-Till Tweaks Improve Yields, Soil Health

Indiana strip-tiller Doug Davenport has spent 15 years experimenting with slight changes in fertilizer application, cover crops and equipment setups to get the most from his strip-till system.

Doug Davenport's 4,000-acre operation reinforces the idea that one size does not fit all for farming. The Kingman, Ind., strip-tiller has spent many years — and plans to spend many more — figuring out field-by-field the best management practices on his farm.

This philosophy led him to adopt strip-till for his corn about 15 years ago. While about 60% of his farm has been tiled, Davenport still found himself struggling with cool, wet soils in the spring on the un-tiled acreage. Coming from a long history of no-till, he first noticed the potential of strip-till while using an anhydrous bar.

“We didn’t have widespread success with the anhydrous toolbar right away, but we could see that it was a direction that could help us,” he says. “Around that time we noticed there was some fertility stratification in our soil tests. These discoveries inspired us to look at strip-tilling.”

Yield Bumps

Today, Davenport grows corn and no-tilled soybeans on a nearly 50/50 split, with the addition of 200-300 acres of wheat every year.

When he started strip-tilling, it was in a limited capacity on his corn ground with a used 16-row Progressive toolbar. After about 3 seasons, Davenport saw the benefit with soils drying out earlier in the spring and better fertility placement, which prompted him to invest in the 16-row Case IH NTX 5310 toolbar with a Montag fertilizer cart that he still uses today.

Although he credits his success to a number of different changes in practices, he has…

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Ian Gronau

Ian Gronau is a Contributing Editor for Lessiter Publications, with primary support responsibilities for Precision Farming Dealer, Strip-Till Strategies and the Strip-Till Farmer Website. He is a graduate of Chicago’s Columbia College and has been preparing content for magazines, websites and newspapers since 2009, and has been recognized with several awards.

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