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As more producers move toward no-till systems for conservation compliance and to reduce costs, some have chosen strip-till. Research shows strip-till corn yields have been slightly higher and more consistent than no-till in some areas.
Some years, there are significant yield responses to strip-till; other years, no-till has yielded just as well or even higher than strip-till. This yield variance between the two systems raises questions as to how strip-till contributes to corn growth and whether no-tillers can overcome yield differences with equipment modifications or improved management.
The strip-till seedbed generally has a more blackened and oxygenated area for a longer period due to the limited amount of tillage. This may be good in some years, but it can be a significant erosion risk if fields are not totally on the contour.
But does this stripped area increase the uniformity and health of the stand? Can these tillage effects be added at planting with no-till or will they cause the soil to be packed and create a “mudded-in” condition?
Research trials show mixed results on how quickly the soil warms up after planting. Many times, the temperature of strip-till and no-till seedbeds are comparable within a day of planting if the no-till planter has row cleaners and a coulter.
Hence, the biggest difference between the systems may be trying to do limited in-row tillage without causing a smeary “mudded-in” condition.
The longer a field is no-tilled, the easier it is to eliminate the “mudded-in” condition because soil…