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Justifying a Switch to Strip-Tilling with Early Progress & Profit

Illinois farmer sees roughly $45 per-acre savings and an up to 20-bushel yield advantage on marginal soils with a transition to strip-tilling.


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PLANTING PLANNER. Kent, Ill., strip-tiller Seth Wenzel applies most of the fertilizer on the corn on their 4,000-acre operation in one pass. Their primary planter is a 24-row John Deere 1775 with ExactEmerge row units “Wherever we don’t use a pop-up fertilizer application, we take a yield hit,” Wenzel says. “Three to four gallons per acre has been kind of a sweet spot for us.”


For the past 6 years, Seth Wenzel and his father, Brian, have been transitioning to strip-tilled corn on their 4,000-acre farm near Kent, in northwest Illinois. Wenzel maintains a consistent corn and soybean rotation with approximately two-thirds of his acreage planted with corn annually.

The family farm has long no-tilled their soybeans, but had used a conventional tillage program that included chisel plowing and cultivating for their corn. Although the learning curve has been steep in some spots, says Wenzel, one of the biggest challenges to adopting strip-tilling was just taking the first few steps into the practice.

“Change is hard,” he says. “There’s that convention of having to do things a certain way. When comparing conventional tillage to the first year or two where we were doing corn-on-corn strip-till, there were places where the crop didn’t look so healthy. But our minds changed when we started looking at yields.”

The first indications that the transition was paying off came in the form of the immediate savings. Before switching to strip-till, Wenzel would often have to arrange for up to 3 tillage passes…

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Iangronau

Ian Gronau

Ian Gronau is a Contributing Editor for Lessiter Publications, with primary support responsibilities for Precision Farming Dealer, Strip-Till Strategies and the Strip-Till Farmer Website. He is a graduate of Chicago’s Columbia College and has been preparing content for magazines, websites and newspapers since 2009, and has been recognized with several awards.

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