5 Soil Healing Tips to Boost Strip-Till Profitability

Indiana farmer Jeff Herrold ‘works with nature’ in his strip-till system to consistently achieve near 300-bushel-per-acre yields on continuous corn.

Like all farmers, Jeff Herrold wants high yields. But, he wants to work with nature to achieve them. 

Raising strip-tilled corn since 2012 and no-tilled soybeans with his brother, Paul, on their 2,300-acre Wanatah, Ind., farm, Herrold has attacked one obstacle after another striving for 300-bushel corn. In recent years though, he’s begun to refocus on farming profitably first.  

Introducing cover crops, leveraging collected field data and managing inputs have all helped fine-tune his strip-till system. Attempting to be strategic in when, how and under what conditions fertilizer is applied has also helped him maximize efficiency. 

In 2017, Herrold drilled down on specific data pulled from a 70-acre sample field on his farm. He strip-tilled in spring with a 12-row Kuhn Krause Gladiator and applied a straight rate of fertilizer. 

It was followed by a 16-row John Deere 1770 planting corn at populations ranging from 35,000-38,000, depending on soil type. The field was irrigated and contained organic matter rates from 1.8-3.3% — a typical range on Herrold’s farm. 

DEEP ROOTS. Jeff Herrold understands the cycling of nutrients where fungi breaks down residue, earthworms take it into the ground and the root exudes back, releasing carbon to feed the microbes. A healthy corn plant is capable of exuding 40% of its carbon.

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The field had been strip-tilled continuous corn and cover-cropped with cereal rye for 2 out of the last 4 years. The field’s average yield ended up being about 275-bushels per acre, with some exceptionally productive…

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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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