Having his own strip-till unit to put down pre-plant nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium for corn was an idea that always bubbled on the back burner for Fred Abels. The Holland, Iowa, no-tiller thought he could incorporate just such a home-built unit into his current no-till operation.
The real push came a couple of years ago when he applied for, and secured, a grant from the Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“I had received an e-mail from the Practical Farmers of Iowa on how to apply for the $5,000 grant,” Abels says. “Winning that grant gave me the added incentive, so I got to work building my own unit.”
Abels crops 300 acres of strip-tilled corn and no-tilled soybeans, Abels also has about 100 acres of pastureland where he rotationally grazes a 70-head cow/calf herd.
“I’ve been no-till since 1984,” Abels says. “A neighbor uses a strip-till unit, but uses liquid starter fertilizer. I wanted to build a 6-row, 30-inch unit that would drop phosphorus and potassium along the rows, and incorporate anhydrous ammonia all in one pass.”
So, in the fall of 2006, Abels got to work. He first needed to secure various pieces of equipment to build the entire unit. And where did he look? The classifieds, of course.
Abels admits that finding the right equipment was partially a matter of luck — he seemed to find exactly what he needed and within his pre-determined price range.
He pulled half…