A growing number of farmers are switching to strip-till for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s to warm up soils that remain cold for too long in the spring, to trim input costs, to reduce compaction, improve drainage or other reasons, strip-till is getting a closer look these days.
The strip-tillers featured here are sold on using this system for a number of different reasons.
Despite an average field size of only 11 acres, Andy Bensend no-tills and strip-tills 3,000 acres classified by the government as 80% highly erodible land near Dallas, Wis.
He deals with 44 landlords in northwestern Wisconsin, and also operates a custom forage and corn silage harvesting business.
“We get our corn and soybeans planted as quickly as possible and move on to custom harvesting the rest of the summer so we don’t pay much attention to our crops,” Bensend says.
While he hasn’t used strip-till yet with continuous corn, Bensend has used the system for 5 years with corn, soybean, wheat and alfalfa rotations.
Bensend does 85% of his strip-tilling in the spring. “I prefer to keep the soil protected over the winter and in early spring,” he says. “With strip-till, we’ve boosted corn yields by 25% over what we were getting with no-till.
“We’ve also reduced anhydrous ammonia usage by 25% to 30% and cut potassium applications by 30%.
“Our strip-tilled fields seem to have better overall vigor. The maturity lag with corn plants is less than with no-till.”