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.
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%…