As fall strip-tillage gets geared up, I was asked what a grower should look for in their fields, and developed this list of tips:

  • Take a tile shovel or something similar, push straight down and pull out soil so you have a side view. Do this at 5 or 6 widths so you have cleaned a zone out wider than you have shattered with the strip-till shank.
  • Clean out the soil by hand so you have a good side view, and smooth any shovel marks
  • Make sure you have gone deep enough to get to the bottom of your shank zone.

Some things to evaluate from the pit:

  • Look for a nice upside-down umbrella shape that is shattered
  • This shattered area should not have smeared sidewalls. Many other points leave a V shape with hard sidewalls that crop roots will not grow through; For example, an Orthman 1tRIPr shank and point are made to leave a U shape without hard sidewalls.
  • You should be able to see just by looking that you have increased pore size. This is a key element for increasing infiltration rates.
  • You want to see increased pore size, but NOT any soil voids. Many times, minor adjustments with the wavy coulters will correct soil voids. Large soil voids can cause soil to dry out or to wash away, depending on weather conditions. I have seen berms that have looked good from above ground but below have large enough voids I can put my arm in!
  • Check how wide your wavy coulters are in comparison to root shatter zone. If the wavy coulters are wider than the shatter zone, you reduce the quality of job they will do for you.