Recently a no-tiller commented on a no-till history article about stripper headers and said “stripper headers make our no-till program work without having to plant covers. We are straight wheat on wheat and run cattle every year. We couldn't do it without the stripper header!” 

This no-tiller's operation is in Oklahoma, and he was able to make wheat do the work as a cover crop via the effectiveness of a stripper-header.

I thought this was an interesting comment and I decided to ask the No-Till Discussion Group if they had any further thoughts on the matter and whether or not using a stripper header with wheat could replace the need to use cover crops. Here are a few replies from other no-tillers:

"I think the stripper header is good for leaving a lot of residue to prevent erosion but without cover crops you're not putting a diverse biology back in your soil."

-Walter Kaminski, Rosewalk Farms, Sauquoit, NY.

“No, striper headers will NOT take the place of cover crops. The header is a wonderful tool in the toolbox, but after a few years of planting cover crops, try going into a real drought and see what you actually end up with. The standing straw with the additional height does compliment the shading effect, but the neighbors stubble blew away during the winter in what was to be either corn or milo/grain sorghum the next season. Having the necessary moisture to make either system work goes a long way in being successful. This reminds me of a discussion a few years ago on another site, "AgWeb", and one poster claimed he had never seen wheat stubble being harvested with a stripper header. Let me tell you, as a 76 year old and watching two 50+ year olds push the bar on what to try on the farm, I just try to be friendly toward actual conservation and economically feasible ideas. Carry on, interesting question!"

-Dennis Dryden, Dryden Farms, Stockton, Kan.

“With the correct no-till planter, a stripper header is not necessary even with 200+ bushels per acre corn stubble. Here is 2022 corn stubble and residue & 2023 no-till soybeans."


-Roger Engstrom, Ames, Iowa

Do you have your own take on this topic or want to ask a separate question to the No-Till Discussion Group? Join the discussion today and learn from other no-tillers.

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