Strip-Tilled Soybeans May Have A Role

Using 30-inch rows in strips could lead to higher yields, lower seed cost, less disease and a boost in profitability

While most of the attention in strip-till gets paid to corn, there are some growers who are successfully strip-tilling soybeans.

Veteran strip-tiller Jeff Reints of Shell Rock, Iowa, and more recent strip-tiller Bruce Wichmann of Fairfax, Minn., have each tried strip-tilling soybeans in the spring and say they are pleased with yields and profitability. Both of them created large test plots comparing spring strip-tilled soybeans with no-tilled soybeans.

Reints has been strip-tilling for 10 years, and 2009 was the first year he strip-tilled soybeans. He typically no-till drills soybeans on 10-inch spacings. He says no-till works well on fields with light and variable soils and on the steep hillsides of his north-central Iowa fields.

But a combination of factors in 2009 led Reints to see how spring strip-tilled soybeans would work.

Planting soybeans rather than drilling enabled Reints to reduce seed populations from 190,000 seeds per acre in 10-inch, no-till-drilled soybeans to 150,000 per acre for strip-tilled soybeans in 30-inch rows. That saved $16 an acre.

Soybean diseases, especially white mold and sudden death syndrome, are becoming an increasing problem in drilled soybeans, so Reints felt the wider row widths would allow more air movement and reduce the likelihood of disease.

Pushing Soybean Yields

And, Reints keeps looking to push his soybean yields higher. While his overall corn yields have increased about 30% during the past 10 years from 160 bushels per acre to about 205 to 215 bushels per acre, his overall soybeans yields have only risen about 10%…

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Zinkand dan

Dan Zinkland

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