Blending Fertilizer into the Berm, Variable-Rate Application Increase

Anhydrous and zinc applications decline, while more farmers applied monoammonium phosphate (MAP) and urea with strip-till rigs in 2015.

Strip-tillers often cite targeted fertilizer placement as a key benefit of the practice, to ensure that plant roots can access nutrients throughout the growing season. But the 3rd Annual Strip-Till Operational Benchmark Study revealed some interesting changes in what type of fertilizer strip-tillers are applying and how.

The number of respondents who band fertilizer in the strip dropped about 8 percentage points, from 74.2% in 2014 to 66% last year. Countering this decline was about a 9-point increase in the number of strip-tillers who mixed fertilizer into the berm, from 28.5% in 2014 to 37.3% last year.

Also seeing an increase, albeit a minor one, was the percentage of farmers who apply fertilizer between the berms with their strip-till rig, from 4% in 2014 to 5.3% last year.

While a smaller number of strip-tillers banded fertilizer beneath the strip, they maintained an average depth of 6 inches, consistent with last year’s result. Some strip-tillers banded fertilizer as shallow as 1-2 inches, while others went as deep as 10-12 inches.

Last year, more strip-tillers utilized a dry fertilizer box, with 61.7% using a mounted- or pull-type box, compared to 56% in 2014 and 57.9% in 2013.

Timing Nitrogen Applications

Feeding the crop on a consistent basis throughout the growing season often requires multiple fertilizer applications, and strip-tillers tend to efficiently time their nitrogen (N) based on need.

But last year, fall N placement in the strips was the only method that saw a year-over-year increase among strip-till survey respondents, from 35.1%…

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Jack Zemlicka

Jack Zemlicka is the Technology Editor for No-Till Farmer. He covers 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 serves as managing editor of Strip-Till Farmer.

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