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Mixing Tillage & Nutrient Timing to Save, Strengthen Soil

A switch to strip-till at Rotenberger Farms has proven pivotal to residue and moisture management


Pictured Above: STRIP-TILL STABILITY. Discouraged by the lack of organic buildup with no-tilled dryland corn, father-and-son Doug (right) and Steve (left) Rotenberger switched to a strip-till setup 12 years ago, leading to healthier soil, reduced wheat residue and improved fertilizer placement accuracy into the berms

Within the 10-mile radius where father-and-son Doug and Steve Rotenberger farm, field variation is vastly understated. Across their 3,500 acres are sandy, high drainage soils along the east to heavier, gumbo-type soils encompassing most of the west.

Factor in the region of Lisbon, N.D., where April snow is as common as a Carson Wentz jersey, and the Rotenbergers have their hands full with excess residue, delayed planting dates and more.

As explained through a series of adaptations, their key to survival and success comes through versatility, from multiple tillage practices to nutrient timing and cover crops.

Crop Consistency.

The Rotenbergers previously had a larger presence of spring and winter wheat in their crop rotation for several decades, but have narrowed their scope down to corn (both dryland and irrigated) and soybeans most seasons over the past few years.


“We’d give it three years of organic build up, then we’d have to go across to make the ground black. We were fighting ourselves…” – Steve Rotenberger


The dryland and irrigated corn are strip-tilled and conventionally tilled respectively, while the soybeans are no-tilled. Wheat has since been limited to every 6 years and accounts for roughly 15% of their total acreage when added.

In the seasons leading…

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James DeGraff

James DeGraff is an Associate Editor for Strip-Till Farmer. A journalism graduate of UW-Madison, he was an intern for Farm Equipment prior to joining Lessiter Media full time in July 2017. Contact: jdegraff@lessitermedia.com

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