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In Search Of A Strip-Till Rig

Editor’s note: "Jeff," a 9-year strip-tiller from northwest Kansas, discusses his search for a strip-till unit and he’d like your suggestions. He's been using a DMI 5310 12-row machine, but is looking at trading it. Mostly DMI and Orthman machines are used in his region.

Read about Jeff’s operation below and tell us what strip-till unit you think would work.

Q: Are you strip-tilling just corn or other crops? Is this irrigated?

A: We primarily strip-till into corn stalks, bean stubble, feed stubble and wheat stubble. Most of the acres are on irrigated circles, but we do some dryland.

Q: Are you all spring strip-till or some fall, too?

A: Our main crop into strip-till is corn with a few circles of soybeans. We have quite a bit of continuous corn.

In the ideal world, we would like to get all strip-tilling done in the fall, but that has never happened. We usually get about 20% of it done in the fall. Then we hope and pray that the early spring is dry enough, like it was this year, to get the strip-tilling done while the ground is still dry. It’s not a good situation when we have to be trying to strip-till when the ground is too wet, plus trying to get it done at least 2 weeks prior to planting corn.

Q: What’s your fertilizer program?

A: On the irrigated ground, we put down anhydrous ammonia and liquid phosphorus whether it is in the spring or fall. On the dryland, we just put down the liquid phosphorus and only do that late summer (into wheat stubble) or late fall (into corn stalks).

Q: Are you interested in the one-pass approach? 

A: We don't like to strip-till for corn on dryland in the spring because that dries out the ground too much. Our average annual rainfall is between 17 and 18 inches, so saving the moisture is important. I’m not interested in the one-pass approach.

There are a few farmers around who are running the Orthman 1tRIPr with the planter attached. My thoughts about that are planting into colder, freshly tilled soil vs. planting on top of warmer berms and strips.

Q: Is any custom strip-tilling being done by farmers and/or any ag-chem companies in your area? What guidance system do you use?

A: I do a little custom strip-till into the same conditions that I mentioned earlier. We do use the John Deere RTK guidance system with Deere 8320R tractor and the DMI rig.

Currently, my strip-till machine’s only guidance is following the tractor, which is one of my reasons for considering a pull-type strip-till machine. Even with RTK, I have been experiencing quite a bit of implement drift. The guess rows are running from 24 to 36 inches (we run on 30-inch centers).

Depending on the field conditions, we always have to reset our guidance offset on the tractor to get our 30-inch guess row.

After a few rounds, we can most generally get our guess row set and keep it until we change fields. The strip-till drift is worse when going through corn stalks or hard ground. Very little drift occurs on softer ground and when we’re going into wheat stubble or feed.

TO SUM UP: What strip-till rig do you think would be best for Jeff’s operation? Tell us what you think!

Strip Till Farmer

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