2015 Strip-Till Operational Benchmark Study: Sidedressing Nitrogen, Use of Variable-Rate Fertilization on the Rise

Banded placement of P and K below the berm and use of RTK-level accuracy remain cornerstones of successful strip-till operations.

For many strip-tillers, banding fertilizer is the primary benefit of the practice to apply critical nutrients where plant roots can readily access them when needed.

While some still prefer broadcast application of fertilizer in the fall, the overwhelming majority of strip-tillers (74.2%) band their fertilizer beneath the berm with their strip-till rigs. This is a slight increase over last year’s result of 72.7%.

A smaller percentage mix fertilizer into their strips (28.5%), compared to 27.2% in 2014. Just 4% apply fertilizer between berms, a slight decrease from the 4.5% reported in last year’s survey.

The average depth of banded fertilizer applications in the strip remained the same year-over-year at 6 inches. However, some strip-tillers preferred to band fertilizer as shallow as 2 inches and as deep as 10 inches.

Also nearly identical was the percentage of strip-tillers using a dry fertilizer box — 56% this year vs. 57.9% in 2014

Applying Nitrogen

Multiple applications throughout the year are often a staple of many strip-tillers’ fertility programs. But how and when those are done can differ on an annual basis.

Comparing the timing of nitrogen (N) applications, sidedressing continued to be the most popular method, according to the 2015 strip-till survey, at 71.7%. But this was a dramatic increase over last year’s total of 53.9%.

Applying N with the planter was the second most common placement practice according to this year’s survey, with 50.3% preferring this method, vs. 41.2% in 2014. Application in spring strips ranked third at 45.6%, up from…

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